Fans of the Marx Brothers may recognize Verdi's Il Trovatore as the opera the boys gleefully wreck as the dénouement of their film, A Night At the Opera. If you'd like to see how the story ends without the help of Otis B. Driftwood, Union Avenue Opera opens its season with a more faithful production. Manrico, the dashing troubadour of the title, loves the Lady Leonora, and his love is reciprocated. His mortal enemy Count di Luna also loves Leonora, and so the two duel for her affections. Compounding the trouble is Manrico's back-story: His gypsy mother, Azucena, bewitched and then killed Count di Luna's younger brother years ago, and the Count's not one to forgive and forget. Lusty men fight over a woman, Leonora threatens to become a nun and Azucena has one last ace up her sleeve — why, if it wasn't for the impending tragedy, Il Trovatore could have been a dandy Marx Brothers plot. It won't make you laugh much, but you won't mind, thanks to all the beautiful music. Il Trovatore is performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (July 10 through 18) at the Union Avenue Christian Church (733 North Union Boulevard; 314-361-2881 or Tickets are $30 to $52.
Fridays, Saturdays. Starts: July 10. Continues through July 18, 2009

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