You have to give the Eldbrooke United Methodist Church credit for courage. Last weekend, it gave two complete, staged performances of "Lucia di Lammermoor," following up on "Don Giovanni" last year and "La Traviata" the year before. You also have to give credit to someone -- above all, presumably, to conductor Stephen Brown -- for the overall quality of a modest but consistently enjoyable production. This was by no means a perfect "Lucia," but Brown kept the tiny orchestra (12 members, including piano and conductor) well balanced with itself and the voices; he brought out the drama in the music effectively, and he supported and guided the voices well.

If he also chose the singers, he did an excellent job getting baritone Timothy Sarris into the role of Enrico, soprano Margaret Palmieri into the title role and mezzo Willow Johnson into the small part of Alisa. These three singers were good from the beginning of the opera; bass David Prager began rather shakily but finished well -- fortunately, since the end of the opera is largely in his hands. Tenor David Holovac sounded strained through much of the performance.

Sarris had the most satisfying voice in the cast, but Palmieri showed considerable potential, particularly in a powerful, agile upper register, and she could become even better with a bit of work on nuances of dynamics, phrasing and expression.

The chorus worked effectively, and in the orchestra flutist Heather Martley gave a good account of her part, particularly in the flute solo of the mad scene. Like many of the other participants, Martley has another job on weekdays (in a Washington law office). One of the most impressive things about this performance was the smooth way the professionals in the cast integrated their work with that of the singers and instrumentalists who earn their living as a consultant, a pharmacist or a librarian -- the amateurs and semi-pros who contribute so much to the city's musical life.