Il trovatore (The Troubador)

The story is not a happy one. There's poison, babies switched at birth, thwarted love and fratricide. ''But the music is fantastic,'' says Italian tenor Marco Berti, who has sung Il trovatore (The Troubadour) so many times he wasn't sure he needed the entire rehearsal schedule called for in Houston Grand Opera's upcoming production of the classic work by Giuseppe Verdi. Berti sings the role of Manrico, son of the gypsy Azucena and the troubadour who loves Leonora, who is also loved by the Count di Luna. The result is a story ''half political and half a love story,'' Berti says. This is Berti's ''ninth or tenth'' Il trovatore production and he says he loves singing it. ''I like Verdi. Verdi doesn't destroy the voice.'' Beyond that, he feels Verdi ''is really the Italian style, the Italian culture. Verdi for me is Italia.'' A point of interest about Berti: His mother started taking him to operas when he was four years old. So what did he grow up to be? ''An electrician.'' Fate (how appropriate for an opera singer) intervened in the form of a cousin who asked him to fill in at a wedding and sing ''Ave Maria.'' People liked what they heard, Berti found himself a teacher and ended up in a conservancy before launching his career which has taken him around the world and made him the winner in 2005 of the Giuseppe Verdi Gold Medal.

7:30 p.m. April 26, May 1, 4, 8 and 11, 2 p.m. April 28. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713‑228-6737 or visit $15 to $322.
Fri., April 26, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., April 28; Wed., May 1, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., May 4, 7:30 p.m.; Wed., May 8, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., May 11, 2 p.m., 2013

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