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November 09, 2006

Verdi's `Nabucco'

The lowdown -- To the uninitiated, Nabucco might sound like another Japanese puzzle, but to opera fans it means a stirring drama with music to match. Nabucco (the Italianized name for Nebuchadnezzar) was Guiseppe Verdi's first great hit. In addition to telling a tale of Babylonian captivity of the Hebrews, the opera conveyed a subtle political message that galvanized the composer's Italian public, a message about freedom from foreign domination. Baltimore Opera Company unveils a new production of Nabucco this week starring vibrant baritone Mark Rucker in the title role. Christian Badea conducts.

If you go -- Performances are 8:15 p.m. Saturday and Nov. 17, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, and 3 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Lyric Opera House, 140 W. Mount Royal Ave. Tickets are $45 to $127. Call 410-727-6000 or go to baltimore opera.com.

[TIM SMITH]

Updated comedy

The lowdown -- Irish playwright George Farquhar wrote his comedy about marrying for money, The Beaux' Stratagem, in 1706. American playwright Thornton Wilder began a new adaptation in 1938. Now, more than six decades later, Washington playwright Ken Ludwig (Lend Me a Tenor, Crazy for You) has completed Wilder's work. Director Michael Kahn's production of this Farquhar/Wilder/Ludwig adaptation opens Monday at Washington's Shakespeare Theatre, where it is currently in previews. Christopher Innvar and Christian Conn star as a pair of money-hungry suitors, and Veanne Cox and Julia Coffey play the objects of their avaricious affections.

If you go -- Showtimes at the Shakespeare Theatre, 450 Seventh St. N.W., Washington, are 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays; and 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; with matinees at 2 p.m. Saturdays, most Sundays and Dec. 27, and noon Dec. 20, through Dec. 31. Tickets are $19-$76.25. Call 877-487-8849 or go to shakespearetheatre.org.

[J. WYNN ROUSUCK]

Early music and dance

The lowdown -- Pro Musica Rara, the ensemble that brings the distant past back to life with the help of period instruments and lively imaginations, opens its 32nd season Sunday in its new home at Towson University with "An Invitation to the Dance." You not only get to hear some great toe-tapping hits from the 18th century, but also see some of them interpreted by preeminent baroque dance specialist Catherine Turocy. Pro Musica's artistic director and cellist Allen Whear will be joined by several of the region's best early music players in works by Vivaldi, Lully and Pergolesi.

If you go -- The concert is at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Towson University Center for the Arts, Osler and Cross Campus drives. Tickets are $25, $10 for students. Call 410-704-2787 or go to promusica rara.org.

[TIM SMITH]

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