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WHAT: Canadian Opera Company - two pairs of one-act operas: "Il Tabarro" with "Cavalleria Rusticana"; and "Bluebeard's Castle" with "Erwartung."

WHEN: "Tab-Cav" now open, with six performances through Oct. 5; "Bluebeard-Erwartung" opens next Friday, with six performances through Oct. 6

WHERE: Hummingbird Centre, Toronto

ADMISSION: $38 to $135, Canadian funds

INFO: (416) 873-2262 or

If you've got a winner, run with it. As its 2001-2002 season takes off, the Canadian Opera Company is following that advice by bringing back, for a third time, the pair of one-acters which may well be, from the standpoint of both critical and audience reaction, the company's all-time success story. Bartok's "Bluebeard's Castle" and Schoenberg's "Erwartung" (Expectation) were first produced together in 1993 and restaged in 1995.

The former's gloriously brilliant orchestral score and progressive revelation of Bluebeard's psychosis as he reluctantly reveals to his new wife, Judith, his life's secrets behind seven mysterious doors is a perfect foil for the latter's atonal score and superbly complementary surreal staging, all cloaking the mental anguish of a woman who laments her lover's alienation, maybe even death. Based on the award-winning original stagings of Robert Lepage, with Francois Racine directing and Bernhard Kontarsky conducting, "Bluebeard" will feature bass Peter Fried and soprano Sara Fulgoni. Soprano Nina Warren has the lone singing role in "Erwartung." Acting roles for a mistress, lover and psychiatrist heighten the opera's tensions. Performances will be in Hungarian and German with English surtitles.

Two one-acters of a more conventional character will be alternating with the Bluebeard-Erwartung double bill. They are Puccini's rough-and-tumble "Il Tabarro," the first part of his "Il Trittico," set among the marginal characters of the Paris barge scene, and Mascagni's always popular "Cavalleria Rusticana," here refreshingly divorced from its usual companion, "I Pagliacci." Leading roles in "Il Tabarro" will be sung by soprano Eszter Sumegi and baritone Yuri Nechaev, while mezzo Alina Gurina and tenor Vadim Zapletchny head the "Cav" cast. Both operas are sung in Italian with English surtitles. The company's artistic director, Richard Bradshaw, will conduct, with stage direction by Tom Diamond.

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