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A ‘Tosca’ like it oughta be

This “Tosca” is just how Puccini himself envisioned it.

Some contemporary opera companies like to update the 110-year-old classic — traditionally set in Rome in 1800 — by setting it in, say Mussolini’s Italy or modern times. But the founders of Bay Ridge’s Regina Opera Company are purists at heart.

“We always do what the composer has asked us to do,” said Fran Garber, who founded Regina Opera, one of the foremost smaller opera companies in the city, 40 years ago. “That’s what we feel our audiences want, and also, that’s what we want. We want to be faithful to what the composer wrote.”

For “Tosca,” that means dramatic, Napoleonic costuming, accompaniment by the company’s trusty orchestra, and the Italian libretto, with subtitles projected above the stage (well, maybe Puccini didn’t envision that).

Garber estimates that the company, which leans heavily on such classics as “Madame Butterfly” and “Carmine,” has done “Tosca” as least four times, most recently in 2007.

Of course, for those who haven’t seen the company’s previous productions, it always helps to go in with a little primer, and the tragic opera, revolving around themes of love, lust and murder, follows Floria Tosca, a beautiful opera diva who is in love with Mario Cavaradossi, a painter and revolutionary. When he is arrested for aiding an escaped political prisoner, Tosca finds herself at the will of the evil chief of police, Baron Scarpia, in order to save her lover from death. This being a tragic tale, it should be fairly obvious that things only get worse from there.

It all happens beginning Nov. 20 at Regina Hall on 65h Street, the same block the company has performed on since forming. Because some things, as we know, don’t need to change.

“Tosca” at the Regina Hall [1210 65th St. at 12th Avenue in Bay Ridge, (718) 259-2772], Nov. 21, 21, 27 and 28 at 3 pm. Tickets $23, $18 for seniors and students, $5 for teenagers, and free for children. For info, visit

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