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Gypsies, smugglers, castanets, love, lust, music and murder—what more could you ask for from an evening at the opera?

Carmen, the risqué story of a freewheeling, free-loving gypsy woman’s betrayal of her soldier love, based on a novella by Prosper Mérimée, originally was denounced as a debauchery by critics and producers alike. But the final opera by Georges Bizet has become one of the most popular and oft-performed operas of all time.

This week, the sultry gypsy and her rebellious bird of love alight on the Proctors stage, courtesy of Bulgarian touring opera company Teatro Lirico D’Europa, who have performed more than 3,000 shows worldwide. And according to OperaOnline, thanks to their dynamic interpretation of Carmen, “Teatro Lirico D’Europa can add another notch to its impressive winning belt.”

Carmen comes to the Proctors stage (432 State St., Schenectady) tomorrow (Friday, Feb. 27) at 8 PM. Tickets range from $20 to $46. For more info, or to purchase tickets, call 346-6204.

Tom Jones

When one thinks about Tom Jones, it’s not unusual to be blinded by the dubious trivia that surrounds his persona. It’s said that the sex-bomb singer suffered a Zoolander-like bout of tuberculosis at a young age, sold vacuum cleaners door-to-door, took Elvira’s virginity, insured his chest hair for $7 million, and instructs his light man, every night, to keep a steady diffuse glow on his crotch.

Lucky for us, we have a chance to verify that last rumor when (Sir) Jones stops at the Palace—no doubt on his way to Las Vegas or Atlantic City. Dude’s been bobbing and crooning long enough to get pelted by at least three generations’ worth of knickers, so there’s little anyone can say at this point that will tarnish his mystique.

Tom Jones plays the Palace Theatre (19 Clinton Ave., Albany) tonight (Thursday, Feb. 26) at 7:30 PM. Tickets run from $39.50 to $59.50. Call 465-3334 for more info.

Ralphie May

Ralphie May weighs in at 400 pounds, and claims to “love Mexicans, man, cuz ya’ll can fix anything with like two chicklets and a pocket knife.” His Web site features the notoriously large comedian packed into a yellow spandex superhero suit and flying over a doodled cityscape, which doubles as a hand flippin’ the bird. You know, the kind of thing you maybe scrawled in your 8th-grade science notebook. Maybe.

And it is just that brash brand of comedy that launched Ralphie May to stardom—first on Last Comic Standing, and since on his three Comedy Central specials, his platinum-selling DVDs, and even the big screen. The New York Times says “Ralphie is phenomenal!” and The Washington Post calls him “a Tour de Force.”

So leave any sense of propriety you may have at home, and check him out this weekend.

Ralphie May brings his heavy-hitting (pun intended) comedy to the Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany) tomorrow (Friday, Feb. 27) at 8 PM. Tickets are $30. For more info, call 473-1845.

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