OPENS JAN. 10

Never mind art: It’s sex that sells. That, presumably, is why the legend “Busty. Lusty. Dusty.” gets larger, redder promotional type than the names of Plácido Domingo and Julia Migenes-Johnson, stars of the cinematic Carmen being used as bait by the Washington National Opera in its latest effort to seduce new audiences. The Bizet adaptation and three others are part of “Opera Goes to the Movies,” a joint venture with the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center that’ll have anyone with a few hundred spare dollars gathering for a private reception at one embassy residence or another before taking in private screenings. “Love. Betrayal. Murder.” equals the 1992 Domingo/Catherine Malfitano Tosca, filmed on location in Rome (Jan. 10, after a party at the Italians’); the aforementioned famously busty gypsy lady seguidillas her way into Silver Spring in the 1984 version of Carmen (pictured; Jan. 17 after cocktails with the Spaniards); “Exotic. Decadent. Riveting.” is shorthand for the 1991 Peter Hall production of Salome that, as the WNO’s Web site drools, finds madwoman Maria Ewing standing naked “at the end of her scintillating ‘Dance of the Seven Veils’” (Feb. 7, after strictly regimented refreshments at the Germans’). And then there’s Franco Zeffirelli’s legendarily ornate 1982 La Traviata (“Gorgeous. Passionate. Belle Epoque Paris.”; Feb. 14, after vin with the French). Long before Callas Forever, the director wanted to capture Maria Callas on film in Verdi’s masterful adaptation of La Dame aux Camelias. But Callas, having died, wasn’t available, so Zeffirelli settled for the extraordinary Teresa Stratas, who may well have outdone even La Divina. Amid all the insanely sensual embellishment that is ’80s filmic Zeffirelli, she makes art—a subtle, vulnerable, exquisitely doomed Violetta. The series opens Monday, Jan. 10, and films screen Mondays at 7:30 p.m. through Monday, Feb. 14 (see Showtimes for a complete schedule), at the AFI Silver, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $90. Call (202) 295-2462 or visit www.dc-opera.org/operamovies.asp for tickets and more information. (Trey Graham)

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