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Barber, Barbieri, Barberillo, Barbiturates

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Charles T. Downey, Operas deal a few hands in life, love and double-entendre
Washington Post, January 10, 2012

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S. Barber, A Handful of Bridge (inter alia), Royal Scottish National Orchestra, M. Alsop
Although the cold months of January and February are a prime opera-viewing time of year in some cities, the stage of the Washington National Opera is generally dark. A few smaller companies do their best to fill the void, like the In Series at the Source. Its latest no-frills production is a double-bill of Samuel Barber’s “A Hand of Bridge” and Francisco Barbieri’s zarzuela “El Barberillo de Lavapiés,” heard on Sunday afternoon.

The Barber opera, which lasts about nine minutes, was more of an appetizer than its own course. Created in 1959 for the Spoleto Festival’s “Album Leaves” cabaret-style series, the compact libretto by Gian Carlo Menotti explores the inner lives of two couples playing a bridge game, with each musical confession lit in turn by a spotlight in this staging directed by Rick Davis. Soprano Randa Rouweyha had the best vocal turn, in Geraldine’s sad, lyrical plea for her ailing mother.
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