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Photos: Anchorage Opera presents Puccini classic, Tosca

Anchorage Opera's production of Puccini's classic opera Tosca begins in a church. Jan 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Members of the Alaska Children's Choir join the Anchorage Opera chorus and principals on stage for Puccini's Tosca. Jan 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Marie Plette as Tosca, in Anchorage Opera's production of Puccini's classic. Jan 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Luis Ledesma as Scarpia, in Anchorage Opera's production of Puccini's classic, Tosca. Jan 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Members of the Alaska Children's Choir join Anchorage Opera chorus and principals on stage for Puccini's classic, Tosca. Jan 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Luis Ledesma as Scarpia, top, and Michael Hayes as Cavaradosi in Anchorage Opera's production of Puccini's Tosca. Jan 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Luis Ledesma as Scarpia and Marie Plette as Tosca, in Anchorage Opera's production of Puccini's classic. Jan 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Marie Plette as Tosca and Michael Hayes as Cavaradosi, in Anchorage Opera's production of Puccini's classic. Jan 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Marie Plette as Tosca, singing "Vissi d'arte," the best-known aria from Puccini's classic work, and one of the most popular soprano arias ever. Jan 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Tosca, played by Marie Plette, killing Scarpia, played by Luis Ledesma, in Anchorage Opera's production of Puccini's classic. Jan 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Marie Plette as Tosca, lamenting her murder of Scarpia, played by Luis Ledesma, in Anchorage Opera's production of Puccini's classic. Jan 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Scarpia's body being carried away, in Anchorage Opera's production of Puccini's classic opera, Tosca. Jan 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
The execution of Cavaradosi, played by Michael Hayes, in Anchorage Opera's production of Puccini's Tosca. Jan 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Marie Plette as Tosca, in Anchorage Opera's production of Puccini's classic. Jan 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Loren Holmes

Anchorage Opera has opened its run of Puccini's classic opera, Tosca. It originally premiered in Rome in 1900, and today remains one of the most-performed operas ever. For those unacquainted with opera, Tosca is a great introduction. It has all the hallmarks of a classic opera, with a dramatic storyline (love, jealousy, murder, suicide) and some of the most grand music ever written for voice.

Anchorage Opera's production is sparsely staged. Set designer Anulfo Maldonado uses large swaths of bold color and repeating crucifix motifs, which, when combined with the deliberate staging of director Marc Astafan and lighting design of Lauren MacKenzie Miller, is very effective. At times throughout the performance, the stage looks almost like a painting.

The principal singers bring that painting to life with their powerful acting and strong singing. Tosca, played by Marie Plette, Scarpia, played by Luis Ledesma, and Cavaradosi, played by Michael Hayes, each bring an intensity to their characters that is fitting for such a grand work.

Tosca is full of remarkable arias, but its most well-known is "Vissi d'arte," sung by the soprano, Tosca. In it, she laments God for abandoning her in her most trying time. Plette delivers a wonderful rendition, enhanced by director Marc Astafan's almost minimalist staging. As one of opera's most famous arias, it is here given appropriate reverence.

Anchorage Opera's production of Puccini's Tosca opens in Anchorage Friday and runs daily through Sunday. Tickets available at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts box office or through Centertix.

Contact Loren Holmes at loren(at)alaskadispatch.com