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The Washington National Opera's production of "Florencia in the Amazon." Photo by Scott Suchman

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Deborah Voigt first performed with the Washington National Opera in 2010 and returns to star as Isolde in "Tristan and Isolde," conducted by Philippe Auguin. (Photographs courtesy of the Washington National Opera)

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Photographs provided by Washington National Opera

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Julia Mintzer (right), at the Washington National Opera with Shantelle Przybylo and James Shaffran, says, "People may not be able to control the coughing, but they can turn off their cellphones." (American Opera Initiative)

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Jerome Kern’s “Showboat” opens May 4 at the Washington National Opera under the lead of artistic director Francesca Zambello. (Washington National Opera)

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Jerome Kern’s “Showboat” opens May 4 at the Washington National Opera under the lead of artistic director Francesca Zambello. (Washington National Opera)

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Washington favorite Patricia Racette returns to the Washington National Opera in Giacomo Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut.” (Washington National Opera)

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Sondra Radvanovsky stars in the title role in Donizetti’s “Anna Bolena,” this season’s opener by the Washington National Opera. (Photo provided by Washington National Opera)

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Ildar Abdrazakov in the title role in WNO’s production of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” which the company revives this season. (Photo provided by Washington National Opera)

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Francesco Meli as Werther becomes infatuated with Sonia Ganassi as Charlotte, who is engaged to another man, in "Werther." The Washington National Opera production closes May 27. (Scott Suchman/Washington National Opera)

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Francesco Meli as Werther becomes infatuated with Sonia Ganassi as Charlotte, who is engaged to another man, in "Werther." The Washington National Opera production closes May 27. (Scott Suchman/Washington National Opera)

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Csilla Boross as Abigaille and Franco Vassallo as Nabucco (Nebuchadnezzar II) in the Washington National Opera's production of "Nabucco." Its plot includes religious fundamentalism, nation-building, Middle East conflict and genocide. (Photograph provided by Washington National Opera)

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The Lyric Opera of Chicago stages "Show Boat" last month under the direction of Francesca Zambello. Washington National Opera will perform it next spring. (Photo courtesy Washington National Opera)

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Terry Cook as the murderous, possessive Crown (seated) and Indira Mahajan as Bess rehearse for Washington National Opera's recent production of "Porgy and Bess." (Washington National Opera via Associated Press)

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KENNEDY CENTER The Washington National Opera's production of "Tosca" includes soprano Patricia Racette, tenor Frank Porretta and bass baritone Alan Held. Puccini's timeless masterpiece of passion and political intrigue opens the WNO's 2011-2012 season.

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Karin Cooper/“Face the Nation” Mezzo Olga Borodina and her husband, bass baritone Ildar Abdrazakov, sing as Mr. Domingo conducts during the Washington National Opera concert "An Evening with Olga and Ildar" in October 2009 at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington.