ERNESTO Panariello has sung the title role of Rigoletto 20 times in Europe since 1990, reveals the Urban Council. That's hardly surprising considering the acclaimed opera star happens to be the resident dramatic baritone of Milan's La Scala. On the other hand, think of all that shock, horror and murderous rage Panariello has had to muster. Surely it must take its emotional toll? Judge for yourself at the Cultural Centre's Grand Theatre as Panariello once again portrays the court jester who is not amused when he discovers his beloved daughter Gilda has been seduced by his employer, the licentious Duke of Mantua - and even worse, that he has unwittingly aided and abetted the foul deed. Starring with Panariello in the three-act Verdi favourite is resident lyric tenor of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Warren Mok, soprano Cecelia Wasson, bass Derek Anthony and mezzo soprano Blythe Merrifield. Directing the impressive line-up is Tim Coleman, while conducting the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and Hong Kong Opera Society Chorus is Paul Nadler. Producer Lo King-man has also roped in the Hong Kong Ballet for this operatic treat being performed in Italian (with subtitles in English and Chinese) tomorrow, Friday and Saturday. Tickets are the only problem - nearly all snapped up as soon as bookingsopened, though you can try for last-minute returns. PETER Ilyich Tchaikovsky died in St Petersburg on November 6, 1893. Sergei Rachmaninov, who left his homeland for good in 1917, died in Beverly Hills on March 28, 1943. To commemorate the passing of the two Russian greats - 100 and 50 years ago respectively - the Urban Council is honouring them with a concert at the Cultural Centre Studio Theatre tonight. Taking part in Double Russian: A Tribute to Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov are soprano Francesca Chan, violinist Pavel Prantl, cellist Ray Wong and pianists Nancy Loo and Mary Wu. The five distinguished musicians will offer lesser-known works including Tchaikovsky's Scherzo-Fantasy Op 72 and Rachmaninov's two Etudes Tableaux. Locally, the least known of the players is Czech-born Prantl who was a teacher and concertmaster with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra until this year when he joined the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts as professor of the string department. THINK of Spanish music and the castanets start clicking. So much for the stereotype - indeed one that is bound to be shattered when the four gifted young singers who comprise Neocantes perform Songs of Ancient Spain at the Fringe Club on Friday and Saturday. Founded in Spain 10 years ago, Neocantes has performed before royalty and at numerous early music festivals across the globe, winning acclaim with its fascinating repertoire. Friday's programme will be devoted to Secular Renaissance Music (16th century) drawn from the archives of the Madrid Royal Palace and the Duke of Medinaceli, while Saturday's recital will focus on a unique musical form of the Spanish Renaissance, Las Ensalades (The Salads) by composer Mateo Flecha. The concerts are part of an Asian tour taking Neocantes to Beijing, Tokyo, Seoul, Manila and Jakarta. ''THE wind sighs softly and the water is cold. After singing a stirring song at the banks of the River Yi, the hero embarks on his last journey without looking back even once.'' From October 29-31, the Hong Kong Dance Company will match prose with action when it presents its spectacular new work Parting at River Yi. Based on events said to have happened more than 2,200 years ago, the full-length dance drama focuses on heroic swordsman Jing Ke who pledges to honour his allegiance to the powerful Prince Dan by assassinating the aggressive King of Qin, Ying Zheng. Alas, Jing Ke dies in the attempt, but in sacrificing himself, he wins eternal glory. The story has been told and retold since it was recorded by historian Si Maqian, but this version will be an eye-opener, promises choreographer Leung Kwok-shing. Parting at River Yi will be performed at the Cultural Centre Grand Theatre with a matinee onOctober 31.