Photo by Erica Dufour; styling by Amy Lauhoff O’Brien

People’s Choice

Kevin Coval—the charismatic Def Poetry vet, cofounder of the teen poetry festival Louder Than a Bomb, and (ahem) recently featured Chicago single—performs selections from his latest book of poetry, Everyday People, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 31st and Friday, August 1st at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater (2433 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-871-3000). A postshow reception with Coval follows. Tickets run $15 (admission, plus a CD of excerpts from the book) to $25 (admission, CD, and the book).

Best Bets for Things to Do This Week

The economy’s in the dumps; gas prices are still sky-high; and half of your Olympic faves have been thrown out for doping. You’ve got enough soapbox material for a lifetime. Step up: Speaking your mind is encouraged at the Bughouse Square Debates in Washington Square Park, just across the street from the Newberry Library (60 W. Walton St.; 312-255-3700). The jam session runs from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 26th alongside the library’s 24th annual Book Fair. Participation is free.

Admire, part one
Forget what you think you know about opera divas. Nicole Cabell has glamour-gal good looks, not to mention pipes of steel. The soprano stars in the Lyric Opera’s fall production of The Pearl Fishers with Nathan Gunn (no chopped liver himself), but you can catch her at 8 p.m. this Thursday, July 31st, singing works by Ravel, Liszt, Previn, and Guastavino at Ravinia (Lake-Cook and Green Bay Roads, Highland Park; 847-266-5100). Tickets are $10 to $50.

Admire, part two
Also onstage, also easy on the eyes: Luciano Pavarotti mentee and dreamboat Vittorio Grigolo sings a tribute to the master, with the help of soprano Olivia Gorra, in Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion (Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street; 312-742-7638). The free concert of works by Puccini and Verdi begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, July 26th, followed by the city’s annual illuminated boat parade, Venetian Night, on the lakefront at 7:45 p.m.

Hotshot Nitin Sawhney has composed scores for movies (Mira Nair’s 2007 flick The Namesake) and video games (Playstation 3’s Heavenly Sword), but with A Throw of Dice, he mined material a little further back on the timeline. Hear his score for the 1929 Indian melodrama—with Sawhney playing piano and celesta, and the Grant Park Orchestra on everything else—alongside a showing of the film at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 30th in Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion (Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street; 312-742-7638). Admission is free.

An indie-music echo to last week’s Pitchfork: Wicker Park Fest (Damen Avenue between North Avenue and Schiller Street; 773-384-2672) runs from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 26th and Sunday, July 27th with an impressive roster of acts, including Prefuse 73 (7:25 p.m. Saturday), Joan of Arc (7:55 p.m. Saturday), and Bob Schneider (8:45 p.m. Sunday). Admission is $5.

Or get a leg up on summer’s biggest, sweatiest, most anticipated music fest. GALApalooza, a Lolla-sneak-peek-slash-fundraiser for the Buckingham Fountain Restoration Project, kicks off at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 31st in the Petrillo Music Shell (235 S. Columbus Dr.; 312-742-4808). The evening includes cocktails, a buffet, and a performance by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. Tickets run $350 to $10,000 at