Tosca is one of those delicious operas bulging with so many grand themes that it just has to have the gloriously fervent music to go along with them. Main character Floria Tosca, diva of divas, is in love with the young revolutionary, Mario Cavaradossi, who is stalked and imprisoned by one of opera's most reprehensible villains, the sadistic, lecherous Scarpia. He lusts after Tosca and puts her in a, shall we say, frightfully compromising position. All's bad that ends bad in this tragedy of politics and passion, with Tosca leaping to her death from the parapets, a perilous undertaking that can backfire with dire consequences. The most famous boo-boo in opera concerns the legendary Tosca who belted out her farewell to life, jumped and hit the mattresses with such force that she bounced back up again, to the gleeful shrieks of the audience. While many of us have witnessed the standard, fully staged production of Tosca, it's far less common to see it in a small venue. Thanks to Intimate Opera, however, you'll have your chance this weekend, when L.A. Opera's Stephanie Vlahos directs Puccini's beloved work in the intimate environs of the Piazza Ballroom at Pasadena's Sheraton Hotel. “It's Tosca under a microscope,” says Vlahos, who decided “to use the entire house as a stage, to immerse the audience in the world of Tosca.” The talented cast includes soprano Tracy Saliefendic in the title role, tenor Scott Priest as Cavaradossi and baritone Sang Wook Kwon as Scarpia.

Fri., April 16, 8 p.m.; Sun., April 18, 2 p.m., 2010

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