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Salieri strikes back

Poor Antonio Salieri. His brilliant career as a composer was going wonderfully until Mozart showed up. After that, it was all downhill. Salieri was not only overshadowed by Mozart; he even got hounded by suspicions that he was somehow responsible for Mozart's death. Thanks to the play and movie Amadeus, Salieri's reputation took a particularly rough turn. But, thanks to phenomenal mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli, his talent just might start to get the respect it deserves.

Last fall, Bartoli released The Salieri Album, a downright breathtaking recording that puts the composer in a fresh, highly flattering light. The singer, backed by the excellent Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, will perform some of the arias from that CD (as well as works by Vivaldi and Gluck) in what promises to be one of the hottest events presented this season by the Washington Performing Arts Society.

The concert is at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Kennedy Center, 2701 F. St. N.W., Washington. Tickets are $40 to $125. Call 202-785-9727.

- Tim Smith

Sondheim's barbershop

Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's 1979 Tony Award-winning musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street begins performances at Center Stage tomorrow. Directed by Irene Lewis with musical direction by Milton Granger, this is the theater's first foray into the challenging Sondheim canon. Center Stage's upstairs Head Theater has been reconfigured with a broad bank of tiered seating for this production.

The tale of a 19th-century barber seeking vengeance against the judge who destroyed his life and family stars Joseph Mahowald, whose Broadway credits include starring roles in Jekyll & Hyde and Les Miserables. Playing the role of Mrs. Lovett, the baker who is Sweeney's partner in crime, is Nora Mae Lyng, a veteran of such Broadway shows as Amour, Into the Woods and Dirty Blonde, as well as one of the original cast members and producers of the satirical revue Forbidden Broadway.

Show times at Center Stage, 700 N. Calvert St., are 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays and 7:30 p.m. selected Sundays, with matinees at 2 p.m. most Saturdays and Sundays, through April 11. Tickets are $10-$60. Call 410-332-0033.

- J. Wynn Rousuck

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