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Festival Opera 

When: Sat., July 12, 8 p.m. and Tue., July 15, 8 p.m. 2008
Price: $36-$100

One of the central and most tuneful of Verdi operas, Il Trovatorebegins its four-performance Festival Operarun this week. Conducted by Michael Morgan, the promising cast features controversial soprano Hope Briggs as Leonora; handsome, beautifully voiced tenor Noah Stewart as Manrico; imposing baritone Scott Bearden as the Count; mezzo Patrice Houston as Azucena (a knockout Ulrica in Festival Opera's Ballo); sonorous bass Kirk Echelberger as Ferrando; and mezzo Jessica Mariko Deardorff as Ines. You can do whatever you want with sets and production, but the singing makes or breaks Trovatore. If Briggs can give us more than power, we're in for some mighty fine Verdi. At the DeanLesherCenter for the Arts (1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek) on Saturday, July 12 and Tuesday, July 15. 8 p.m., $36-$100. or 925-943-7469.

— Jason Victor Serinus


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