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Rapped Up

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Since its inception 51 years ago, Opera Memphis has brought plenty of internationally renowned singers, including Leontyne Price, Beverly Sills, and Birgit Nilsson, to the local stage. When kicking off its 2007 season, however, the venerated opera company plans to do things a little differently: After this Saturday's opening-night performance of Puccini's three-act Turandot, the fairytale-like story of a stonehearted Chinese princess with soprano Audrey Stottler in the title role, local "aristocrunk" rap group Lord T & Eloise — aka the bewigged Cameron "Lord Treadwell" Mann; his fellow MC, the gold-plated Robert "Maurice Eloise XIII" Anthony; and their beat maker, Elliott "Myster E" Ives — will take over The Orpheum's stage. The combination of opera and rap might be unlikely but not wholly improbable. After all, Memphian and opera star Kallen Esperian has

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already lent her sizable vocal talents to a pair of Lord T & Eloise tracks, "Make Dat Money" and "Penthouse Suite." While it's unknown whether or not Esperian will appear with the group on Saturday night, Opera Memphis' bid for a younger, hipper audience is a calculated risk that, with any luck, will pack the house 'til the fat lady sings.

Opera Memphis presents "Turandot" and Lord T & Eloise, Saturday, October 13th, 7:30 p.m. at The Orpheum. $25-$37. For more information, go to www.OperaMemphis.org

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