THE WASHINGTON OPERA'S tios of Gian Carlo Menotti's "The Telephone" and "The Medium" grab you the way they did when they were new last year -- and when they were the spectacular triumph of last summer's Edinburgh festival.
The dominant event in this double bill at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater is "The Medium," the story of a cynical faith healer who ultimately turns upon herself. Madame Flora, enraged as she is by the unexpected cruelty that has befallen her, seems utterly possessed. And that is the heart of the opera.
In this role, Beverly Evans shows a rare intensity -- her meanness is as explicit as her pathos.
There are two other remarkable players. One is Menotti's adopted son, Francis, as the tragically victimized mute boy.
The other is Nadia Pelle, as Monica, Madame Flora's daughter. She has much of the best musi and she sings it with great warmth.
As for "The Telephone" -- which explores the emptiness of chic -- it's really rather dated. But it has its charm.
Zack Brown's sets are appropriately grisly in "The Medium" and quite debonair in "The Telephone." Cal Stewart Kellogg's conducting is hard-edged in both cases. THE TELEPHONE & THE MEDIUM -- At the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater; Friday, Tuesday, December 15, 19, 21, 26 and 29, and January 1 and 4 at 8 p.m.; December 17 at 7 p.m.; Sunday, December 23 and January 6 at 2 p.m.