While "Ba-Ta-Clan" is not exactly a staple of the operatic repertoire (indeed, it is entirely without pretensions in this respect) the Offenbach spoof has many redeeming social values.
If you are an opera buff, its liberties with the music of Bellini and Meyerbeer will amuse you. If you are an Offenbach fan, you will find the work chock full of Offenbachiana: can-cans, witty duets and double entendres.
If you are a child and have been among the Ford's theaters-full that have been enjoying this opera lately, you probably have been wooed by the imaginative production.
The Children's Opera Theater, under the direction of Michael Kaye, has staged a fast-moving, clever and action-packed version of the opera, long on slap-stick (as is only fitting) and devoid of unnecessary piffle. Pared down to an uninterrupted hour of sight gags (to supplement for the kiddies the more sophisticated sound gags) even the fact that it is sung in the original French and Nonsense dies not seem to impair its wiggle rating.The kids seemed entranced and amazingly quiet.
Kaye, on stage at scene junctures to tell the story, has done a marvelous job of adapting this opera for children.
Colorful props move on and off an empty stage smoothly and without any hitch in the prevailing mood of silliness. The costumes strike just the right tone, and the orchestral accompaniment, provided on tape by the D.C. Youth Orchestra, is well integrated.
In the four lead roles, the singing and acting of Micheal Sparacino, Myra Merritt, James Meeks and David Troup are excellent, and Sparacino, in addition, is a talented clown.
It's the bit parts, however, that can make or break a comedy like this, and again, the OCT comes through here with flying colors. There's not a detail of the rather simple production that is unattended to.
What this all adds up to, if you are a child in fact or in heart, in spite of a stroy that is sillier than most and music to match, is good entertainment.