The stage of the Kennedy Center's Opera House was transformed into a swirling symphony of color as the Antologia de la Zarzuela came to life in a sumptuous performance Tuesday night. Created and directed by Jose Tamayo, the program moved energetically -- propelled by the sure-fire click of castanets -- as it flitted through highlights from three centuries of Spanish opera. Beneath the glitter, the troupe glowed with the energy of centuries-old works performed lovingly, and quite well.
There was something for almost everyone along the way: pomp and pageantry, politics and passion, even a stabbing.
Costumes were magnificent, setting scenes ablaze in color. This could have been a problem -- a sort of dazzling overkill -- if the dancers were less than splendid, but the group proved more than equal to the sheer sparkle of the clothes. The high-voltage program, choreographed by Alberto Lorca, was crisp and fluid. The ballet "La Boda de Luis Alonso," a symphonic work by Geronimo Gimenez, was one of many high points.
The dance "La Reina Mora" sparkled with electricity. Elsewhere, dancers resplendent in gold flashed the red capes of bullfighters in front of a stark tableau -- still black forms silhouetted against a blood-red background.
The ensemble was smooth in a balanced performance by the Orquesta de Camera Lirica of Madrid, conducted by Manuel Moreno-Buendia. Among the singers, Carmen Gonzalez was a particularly powerful soloist, bringing a compelling urgency to Pablo Sorozabal's "La Tabanera del Puerto." The troupe performs through March 16.