When the Washington Opera is forced to improvise, it does so with style. At 9:45 Tuesday morning tenor Neil Wilson, who opened the opera's season as Romeo in Gounod's "Rome'o et Juliette" last Saturday, reported that he was indisposed and would not be able to sing. By 11 a.m. Gregory Kunde, who sang the role last summer under the same directing team, had been found somewhere in the deepest Midwest, and at 8 Tuesday evening he was on stage.

The substitution was not seamless but it was remarkably smooth. Kunde projected more easily than Wilson did on Saturday and his diction was clearer. He had not the time to think through the details of the role that Wilson had so well in hand, and the dramatic ensemble was not as smooth as it might have been had he rehearsed for more than a few hours with the company. But aside from a hitch or two during the early "Queen Mab" scene, he did a splendid job.

This second performance had a musical maturity that Saturday's lacked. Angela Maria Blasi's Juliette sang with a freedom and a daring that gave the role real power, and Gloria Parker as Ste'phano was, if possible, quicker and more imaginative.