Anna Karenina: David Carlson's new opera is a tough nut to crack at first, following as it does in the old modernist tradition of eschewing obvious melodies and getting jiggy with all kinds of weird key changes. But hang in there the sensibility works on the ears, and by the second act, with all the busy-body exposition of Colin Graham's libretto out of the way, the fireworks start in earnest. The music still isn't obvious, but it's thunderously commanding, filled with breathtaking drama given inexpressible weight by the presence of vibrant singing actors Kelly Kaduce, Brandon Jovanovich and Christian Van Horn, among others. Colin Graham directs. Brandon K. Thorp Through May 13 at the Ziff Ballet Opera House, Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Call 800-741-1010, or visit www.fgo.org.
The Boy From Russia: Nothing in the world can be quite so trenchant as a clear-eyed look at the difficulties faced by the adult members of our species in their attempts to save the nonadults, and this is exactly what Susan J. Westfall's new play promises to be. Inspired by the events that followed Westfall's own decision to adopt a young Russian boy, The Boy From Russia follows married couple Beth Goldman (Sandra Ives, recently seen in The Faith Healer) and Jack Goldman (Avi Hoffman, recently seen in everything) on a journey to find and retrieve a child they saw in an adoption agency video. The trip doesn't go as planned, and ultimately both the child's future and their marriage is called into question. The Boy From Russia is probably destined to rip out your heart and feed it to you. Directed by David Arisco. Brandon K. Thorp Through June 3 at Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables. Call 305-444-9293, or visit www.actorsplayhouse.org.