There’s a thrill in the air on the opening night of the opera “Tosca.” The guests, dressed to a tee, mingle about in their most self-satisfied grace. The area is redolent with the aroma of quality perfume. And the women ... veritable angels appearing one after another across the expanse like shimmering jewels. It’s springtime in Los Angeles and the fall of Western Civilization is yet unrealized, for the spirit of Puccini lives!

It is in fact the 150th anniversary of the birth of the great Italian composer Giacomo Puccini. To celebrate, LA Opera is presenting four of his finer works.

“Tosca,” which debuted in Rome on Jan. 14, 1900, was one of his most popular. It’s easy to see why. The story is genuinely compelling, and the music is sublime.

It’s a story of an artist, Mario Cavaradossi, and his beloved mistress, the singer Floria Tosca. The action begins when political prisoner Cesare Angelotti escapes and seeks refuge in a church where his old friend Cavaradossi just happens to be painting a portrait of the Madonna.

They rejoice at seeing one another, and the artist vows to do what he can to help Angelotti hide from the sinister chief of police, Baron Scarpia. Things get nasty when Scarpia arrests Cavaradossi on suspicions of helping the escaped convict and sentences him to die by firing squad. Tosca is desperate to save his life and nearly agrees to a disgusting carnal offer from the villainous Scarpia … ah, but I’ve told too much.

This show is spectacular in every way. The performances, the orchestra and the set design exceed the highest expectations. For anyone who has ever wondered what the love of opera is all about, this production promises a magical introduction.

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is located at 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. For more information, visit