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FRIDAY & SATURDAY
“I’ve suffered for my music—now it’s your turn,” says pixieish B.J. Ward at the outset of the show she calls Stand-Up Opera. A trained soprano who has the chops to belt arias to the rafters and beyond, Ward ambles amiably down paths where most musical angels (save perhaps Victor Borge and Peter Shickele) fear to tread. Once there was Anna Russell, who could reduce the entire Ring Cycle to about six minutes of hilarity, and before her there were the many opera parodists of vaudeville. But these days, apart from the inspired camp of La Gran Scena Opera Company, there is only the sophisticated patter of Ward, who sings up a storm, then shreds the operatic repertoire in her between-song patter. Most classical composers are, in her estimation, guys who’ve done their damnedest to kill off their female characters and the divas who sing them (“There’s no reason for a note to be that high”), and Ward can be briskly amusing about everything from castrati to Clint Eastwood (“He’s a big fan of opera….He’s making a film called Die…Fledermaus.”). Obviously, it helps to be able to tell La Traviata from Tosca, but the anecdote about the soprano who couldn’t find the knife hidden behind a bowl of fruit and ended up stabbing her lover with a banana doesn’t require much insider knowledge. Nor does the one about the stagehand who was supposed to put a mattress behind a wall to cushion a robust diva’s death scene, but who substituted a trampoline. At 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 2, and 2 p.m. Saturday, June 3, at the National Museum of Natural History’s Baird Auditorium, 10th and Constitution Avenue NW. $26. (202) 357-3030. (Bob Mondello)