There's opera, and then there's opera: those epic, lavish dramas filled with seductions and betrayals, murders and suicides, heart-wrenching ballads and wailing arias - all of which Puccini's Toscaoffers in abundance. The Houston Grand Opera presents its new production of the three-act masterpiece, which is sung in Italian with English surtitles. It's set in 19th-century Rome, where a police chief, Baron Scarpia (played by Raymond Aceto), seeks to capture Napoleon sympathizers. During his hunt, he comes across the lovely opera singer Floria Tosca (Patricia Racette), whose lover, the painter Mario Cavaradossi (tenor Alexey Dolgov), has helped one such sympathizer hide. Scarpia is enraptured by Tosca, who will do anything to protect her beloved - and we do mean anything. 7:30 p.m. January 22. Through February 7. Wortham Theater Center, 500 Texas. For a full schedule, call 713-228-6737 or visit www.houstongrandopera.org. $23 to $276.
Fri., Jan. 22, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 30, 7:30 p.m.; Wed., Feb. 3, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Feb. 5, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 7, 2 p.m., 2010