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A Most Sanguine Princess 

Giacomo Puccini's Turandot is a true fairy-tale opera, in that it's steeped in blood and cruelty and yet still tinged by love. The beautiful daughter of the Emperor, Turandot, will wed no man who cannot answer her three riddles -- and anyone who answers incorrectly is beheaded. A mysterious and handsome Prince arrives just in time to witness the execution of the latest suitor, and despite this example of Turandot's cruelty, decides he will dare her game of riddles. This being a fairy tale, he succeeds, but then offers her a possible escape from marriage: If she can discover his name before dawn, he will give her leave to kill him or marry him as she chooses. That's quite a risk, considering how bloodthirsty the Princess is. Union Avenue Opera opens its new season with a fully staged production of Turandot in the original Italian (with English supertitles) at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (July 8 through 16) at Union Avenue Christian Church (733 North Union Avenue; 314-361-2881 or Tickets are $30 to $52.
Saturdays. Starts: July 9. Continues through July 16, 2011

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Speaking of Highlights, Giacomo Puccini

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