When an opera company mounts a regional premiere of a 200-year-old opera, you have to ask why no-one else has done it. The answer, once you see Tacoma Opera’s production of Rossini’s “The Turk in Italy,” on this weekend in the Rialto Theater, is clear: It needs a brilliantly even cast and a clever stage director. This production has both in spades, with the bonus of a skilled conductor, sensitive orchestra and a very versatile set.
In telling the story of a married couple torn apart by a woman who can’t stop flirting, this opera doesn’t exactly break ground plot-wise; nor does it go emotionally beyond Rossini’s usual froth – though that’s always lovely to hear. But three and a quarter hours of froth is pretty hard to take without something more, and for Tacoma Opera that something would be sheer vocal and comic chutzpah. Every one of the five main principals has superb control of these difficult lines, and each has a delightfully entertaining take on the opera’s stock characters.