Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci

In opening its new season, the Houston Grand Opera is doing away with epics, opting instead for a pair of verismo operas, known for portraying the (sometimes unsavory) events of everyday life. The first is Cavalleria rusticana, Pietro Mascagni's tale of passion, revenge and seduction. The one-act opera, which premiered in 1890, recounts what happens when a young Sicilian villager returns home from the military to find that his fiancé has married someone else (hint: it's not good). Singing her signature role of Santuzza is Dolora Zajick, considered by many to be the country's finest mezzo-soprano.

Paired with Cavalleria, as it has been thousands of times, is Ruggero Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, the famed, spooky tragedy about a wronged husband driven insane by jealousy, perhaps best known for his attire as the world's saddest clown. Opening-night performance is at 7 p.m. Friday, October 17. The show continues at 7:30 October 24, 29 and November 1, and at 2 p.m. October 26. Wortham Theater Center, 500 Texas. For information, call 713-228-6737 or visit www.houston-grand-opera.org. $20 to $205.
Fri., Oct. 17, 7 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 19, 2 p.m.; Fri., Oct. 24, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 26, 2 p.m.; Wed., Oct. 29, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 1, 7:30 p.m., 2008

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Julia Ramey