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