Thursday, Feb. 28

It’s OK; I know the notion of “opera” can be a bit intimidating. But that preconception you have of dowagers with opera glasses tut-tutting at the common people from their balcony seats, that’s just not what the Yakima Valley Opera Company is about. It’s opera for the people — especially when it’s operetta, as it is during the next Diversions event at the Yakima Valley Museum.

The YVOC will present songs from several operettas. There will be food, drink and conversation. Tickets cost $30, which includes dinner. The event begins at 6 p.m. at the museum, 2105 Tieton Drive. For information, call 509-248-0747 or visit www.yakimavalleymuseum.org.

Friday, March 1

U.S. propaganda posters from World War I and World War II helped change American sentiment from isolationism to patriotism. It’s a quaint notion in this mass-media age, but the posters, many of which stand on their own merit aesthetically, inspired patriotism and sacrifice throughout the nation. The story they tell, by appealing to specific aspects of the American spirit, is the story of American priorities in the first half of the 20th century.

Collector Jim Givan of Yakima lends his posters from both wars to the Yakima Valley Museum for “Art of War: Posters Promoting Service and Sacrifice,” which opens with a reception from 5-7 p.m. at the Yakima Valley Museum, 2105 Tieton Drive, and runs through August. For information, visit www.yakimavalleymuseum.org or call 509-248-0747.

Saturday, March 2

Seems like every local organization has a fundraiser dinner of some kind, but I think the Zonta Club of Yakima Valley is the only one at which dinner guests are asked to solve a murder most foul. So if you like your catered meal with a side of intrigue, you may want to check out this year’s Zonta murder mystery dinner “Aces and Eights: Dead Man’s Hand.”

It’s $60 per person and includes dinner, wine and dessert plus the opportunity to bid during a silent auction. Proceeds benefit Zonta, a group dedicated to the advancement of women. The evening begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Yakima Convention Center, 10 N. Eighth St. For information, visit www.zontayakima.org or call 509-249-2590.

You probably don’t know singer-songwriter Erin McKeown. That’s OK; despite a committed fan base and plenty of significant TV and film gigs, she’s never been mainstream exactly. So don’t feel bad. But you should know her, because she’s good. Like, really good — not just as a singer and guitarist, although she is good at those things, but as an all-around performer. She’s got that thing, you know. That thing that all of the best performers have, that mix of talent, charisma and chutzpah that makes them memorable.

You can see for yourself at The Seasons Performance Hall at 7:30 p.m. with opener Holcombe Walker of Portland. Tickets cost $15 in advance or $18 on the day. For information, visit www.erinmckeown.com or www.theseasonsyakima.com or call 509-453-1888.

Wednesday, March 6

The best thing about Yakima Valley Vintners, the teaching winery created by Yakima Valley Community College, is that its educational efforts don’t stop with its students. The public is invited to events throughout the year including the annual Teach, Tour and Taste event. This year that includes a demonstration on wine barrel tasting as well as the opportunity to taste award-winning wines.

The event goes from 5-8 p.m. at the YVCC Grandview campus, 110 Grandridge Road. It’s free, but you have to be at least 21. For information, visit www.yakimavalleyvintners.com or call 509-574-6810.

For purposes of conversation, and with the understanding that there’s plenty of crossover, you can basically divide the Yakima Town Hall Speaker Series into two groups: sexy and important. The sexy ones — the big names like Naomi Judd in 2010 — are a lot of fun. But the important ones — intellectuals like theoretical physicist Michio Kaku in 2011 — are more, you know, important.

David Lampton, who will speak at the Capitol Theatre at 11 a.m., is one of the important ones. His work as Director of China Studies at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies makes him a leading expert on American-Chinese relations. What he tells you in his speech, “The Three Faces of Chinese Power: Might, Money and Minds,” is likely to be increasingly important as the 21st century progresses.

Tickets for the lectures must be bought as a series. For information, visit www.yakimatownhall.com

Friday-Saturday, March 8-9

The titular “Last Gasps” of the Terrence McNally play being produced by the Yakima Valley Community College Playmasters are surprisingly literal. The play, a chilling look at the final results of air pollution, goes from theoretical to very real and very personal as its characters start to exhaust the planet’s breathable air. It’s a compelling and thought-provoking play.

You can see it at 7:30 p.m. both days in the Kendall Hall Auditorium on the YVCC campus. Tickets cost $5, or $3 for students. For information, visit www.yvcc.edu or call 509-574-4750.

— Pat Muir