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Dark, dramatic ‘Tosca’ takes over the Riviera Theatre

Puccini’s “Tosca” has been called cursed because so many things can go wrong. The dark opera includes all kinds of ominous elements: a knifing, a candelabra, a firing squad and, finally, the wrenching moment when heroine Floria Tosca leaps to her death. Throughout the years, performances have been fraught with mishap. A fake stabbing becomes a real stabbing. A soprano who jumps, supposedly to her death, bounces hilariously back up.

Still, few people would argue that “Tosca” is worth its dangers. The music is breathtaking, and the opera has a dramatic pulse that makes it all but impossible to look away. “E lucevan de stella,” sung by the opera’s hero, Cavaradossi, as he awaits execution, and “Vissi d’arte,” in which Floria Tosca finds herself at a terrible crossroads, rank among the most famous arias of all time. The beauty of the music and the opera’s taut and riveting drama make this a terrific opera for a beginner as well as a perpetual treat for a connoisseur.

Nickel City Opera, now in its seventh year, presents “Tosca” this weekend at the Riviera Theatre, 67 Webster St., North Tonawanda. Executive Director Valerian Ruminski draws his casts from opera houses around the world where he has performed, and “Tosca” features Michele Capalbo as Tosca, Adam Klein as Cavarodossi and Ted Baerg as Scarpia. Ruminski himself appears as the Sacristan.

Performances take place at 8 p.m. Friday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $20-$49. Call 692-2413.

– Mary Kunz Goldman