Don't feel bad if you've never heard of Arizona Opera's opener -- except for the duet Au Fond Du Temple Saint, Bizet's The Pearl Fishers is relatively unknown. The story, set in Sri Lanka, is full of twists, as estranged friends Zurga and Nadir must decide what to do when the woman of their mutual desire, Leila, shows up to try her hand at town vestal virgin. Not a good sign, given that both agreed never to see her again -- and both secretly want to make her unworthy of her post. Baritone Victor Benedetti, from last season's Hansel and Gretel, is playing the role of Zurga. "He's not a good guy, he's not a bad guy," says Benedetti of the role. "He's just faced with monumentally tough decisions." The Pearl Fishers plays at Phoenix Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams, Thursday, October 16, through Sunday, October 18, at 7:30 p.m., and October 19 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 to $110. To purchase, call 480-784-4444 or visit www.azopera.org. - Quetta Carpenter
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Although medieval cultures are best known for such harmless pastimes as witch-hunting, stoning and beheading, they also had a sensitive side, as represented in the timeless archives of medieval music. Get a taste of the pop charts circa the 12th century when medieval vocal trio Liber unUsualis, winner of the 2002 International Young Artist's Presentation, presents its humorous take on the genre, Saturday, October 18 at the Kerr Cultural Center, 6110 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. Part of the Early Music at Kerr Series, the show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $24; call 480-596-2660 or visit www.asukerr.com. - Craig Wallach
Licensed to Strive
Movin' on up in a new production
Strivers Row was a small area of Harlem in the 1940s that was home to elite and monied members of the city's African-American population. It got its name from the aspirations of its residents, who were seen as "striving" for a better life. "It was a very closed, exclusive community," says David Hemphill, artistic director of Black Theatre Troupe, who performs a play by the same name. The show, a comedy of manners, illustrates the Van Striven family's attempt to create a fashionable society between 7th and 8th Avenues. Hemphill, who also directed the show, says he enjoyed sharing the history with his cast. "A lot of them had no idea about that level of African-American society," says Hemphill. "It was nice sharing that with them." On Strivers Row runs Thursday, October 16, through November 2 at the John Paul Theatre at Phoenix College. Tickets range from $22 to $27 and may be purchased by calling 602-258-8128, extension 2. - Quetta Carpenter