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The Five Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Scary Cars, Tacos and Pyro

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A smitten worker takes a chance on a magic potion and ends up drunk? Sounds like HGO's off to a great season with The Elixir of Love. Also in the stars is a dance piece inspired by NASA that begins with an astronaut's prologue as audience members are seated. And while the temperatures are dropping (just a tad), things are heating up with the spicy goodness of Tacolandia presented by TABASCO® Sauce, the hot cars at the funeral museum and the high-flying pyrotechnics at Wings Over Houston.

Dimitri Pittas plays Nemorino, the lovestruck lowly worker in Houston Grand Opera’s season opener, The Elixir of Love. And although his character is often played as a country bumpkin in his attempts to secure the love of Adina, the local beauty and hotel owner, Pittas says that’s not how he sees him in the bel canto comic opera. “He’s a very levelheaded guy who’s honestly in love with this woman,” the tenor says. “In this production, he works for her.” And then tries to secure a magic potion that will win her over. Set in the 1950s on the Amalfi coast, the opera also stars Nicole Heaston as Adina, Patrick Carfizzi as Dr. Dulcamara (a man of questionable ethics) and Jane Glover as the conductor. Pittas says Donizetti’s music is perfect. “It’s bel canto of the highest level.” Sounds perfect to us too, putting this first offering from HGO's season on our list for Friday night. Sung in Italian with English projections.

7 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. Sunday; and 7:30 p.m. October 26, October 29 and November 4. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-228-6737 or visit houstongrandopera.org. $15 to $290. 

Those aren't Oompa Loompas and this isn't Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. When dance-maker Karen Stokes eliminated a section on the Houston Ship Channel from a 2003 program, she had no idea if she’d ever return to the subject. Not only did she revisit it, she turned it into a three-year initiative that culminates with DEEP: Seaspace. The two-parter, choreographed and directed by Stokes, celebrates human exploration and innovation through two of the city’s defining institutions, moving from the industrialism and man-made ingenuity of the Houston Ship Channel in Sea, to NASA and “the sense of awe and wonder that you can have when you look up at the stars and think about the universe” in Space. Bill Ryan composed the soundscape for this unusual evening, making it our other pick for Friday night; the music is performed by Michael Lowenstern, Todd Meehan, Doug Perkins and Todd Reynolds.

8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2525 or visit karenstokesdance.org. $15 to $38.50. 

While San Antonio and Austin have been busy with their silly little taco wars, we here in Houston have been diligently planning taco peace and bliss. The second annual Houston Press Tacolandia presented by TABASCO® Sauce is an outdoor ode to everything that rules about tacos. Some of Houston’s most notable tastemakers are posting up at the outdoor taco-sampling shebang, including (but not limited to) Añejo Tex-Mex, Berryhill Baja Grill, Cyclone Anaya's Mexican Kitchen, El Real Tex-Mex, Freebirds, Hugo's, El Tiempo, Los Tios Mexican Restaurant, Molina's Cantina, Taconmadre, Uberrito Fresh Mex, Velvet Taco and many more. Beer and cocktails are available for cash purchase at the rain-or-shine, 21-and-over event that also features live bands and awards for best tacos in a variety of yummy categories. Tacos, tacos y más tacos: What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon and evening in Houston?

4 to 7 p.m. Saturday. The Water Works at Buffalo Bayou Park, 105 Sabine Street. For information, call 877-987-6487 or visit microapp.houstonpress.com/tacolandia/2016. $30 to $80. 

The ninth annual Halloween Classic Car show is just another reason why we named the National Museum of Funeral History "Best Small Museum" in this year's Best of Houston®. We already think the museum is awesome (it's got exhibits on embalming, caskets and celebrity funerals), but this Saturday it'll be showcasing more than 170 classic and contemporary cars, courtesy of the Houston Mopar Connection Club. Because Halloween is just around the corner, the tricked-out cars are competing for specialty trophies: Best Decorated, Scariest Modes of Transportation and audience favorite Zombie Attack. Blast from the Past Street Machines of Texas does the judging and hands out the awards at 3 p.m. The Dead DJs are spinning tunes, and barbecue sandwiches are available for purchase. It's all for a good cause: Proceeds benefit local charities. It's a family-friendly event and the organizers have requested that adults avoid costumes that might scare children; they didn't say anything about the cars.

10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. National Museum of Funeral History, 415 Barren Springs. For information, call 281-876-3063 or visit nmfh.org. $3 to $5.

The Commemorative Air Force Wings Over Houston Airshow is back with more high-flying action and death-defying stunts. The U.S. Navy Blue Angels headline the show, and rumor has it that this is the last chance to see Fat Albert, the C-130 Hercules, before it gets sidelined for the year. Also on deck is Tora! Tora! Tora!’s thrilling re-enactment of the attack on Pearl Harbor, plus famed aerobatic stunt pilot Sean Tucker. Precision and velocity are all part of the package for the sky-high show, with flying performances scheduled between 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. On the ground, crowds can visit restored military vehicles circa 1942, cargo planes and flight simulators. A touching memory, the show coincides with the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, and highly decorated war veterans will be signing autographs and taking photos, putting this one on our "must go" list for Sunday. Don Johnson, chairman of the air show’s board of directors, says, “It’s one of the most interesting community events. The pilots put on a great show. There is a lot of pyro and flames, and it highlights the principles on which our country is founded.”

8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (gates close at 3 p.m.). Ellington Airport, 510 Ellington Field. For information, call 713-266-4492 or visit wingsoverhouston.com. Free to $150. 

Sam Byrd, Natalie de la Garza, Steve Jansen and Margaret Downing contributed to this post.

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