Barbra Streisand's visit Friday night to the Verizon Center entailed none of the problems the superstar experienced earlier in the week in New York. There, a heckler provoked the diva to use an angry expletive. Here, those in the near-capacity crowd (who each shelled out between $100 and $750 for tickets) showered Miss Streisand with rapturous applause, standing ovations and other displays of affection that continued throughout her 2? hour performance.
In turn, the star gave it her all, showcasing her magnificent instrument -- one of the best voices in pop music history -- and regaled fans with tales of her noshing at local eateries (most notably Cake Love on U Street) while attempting to take in a bit of sightseeing before stepping on stage.
"I wanted to go to the National Gallery of Art but just didn't make it," said Miss Streisand, clad in a shimmering black-beaded gown with matching jacket. That was one of the show's few unscripted moments. Throughout the rest of the night, the diva relied on the teleprompters that towered above for both the lyrics to her songs and the homey repartee between them. "Once, when I performed in Central Park I forgot the lyrics to three songs," Miss Streisand said, "and I vowed never to let it happen again."
Backed by a 55-piece orchestra, Miss Streisand, 64, kicked off her set with such familiar and engaging chestnuts as "The Way We Were," Harold Arlen's "Come Rain or Come Shine" and "Evergreen."
Il Divo -- the Simon Cowell-formed pop-opera quartet (baritone Carlos Marin and tenors Urs Buhler, David Miller and Sebastien Izambard) took the stage with "Senza Catene"("Unchained Melody") and "Regresa A Mi" ("Unbreak My Heart") as Miss Streisand took a breather. Upon returning, she served up a surprise with a beautiful rendering of "Unusual Way" (from the Broadway musical "Nine") along with several numbers from her Oscar and Tony-winning turn in "Funny Girl," including the Jule Styne-Bob Merrill showstopper, "Don't Rain on My Parade."
The show's second half, introduced by an orchestra overture of theme songs from Miss Streisand's films (among them "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever" and the Oscar-nominated "The Prince of Tides"), featured Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Music of the Night," (performed with Il Divo) from "Phantom of the Opera" and her crowd-pleasing signature tune "People."
Next, "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught" (from Rodgers and Hammerstein's "South Pacific") and "Children Will Listen" (sadly, one of only two Stephen Sondheim songs for the night) presented the perfect segue into the much-talked about skit featuring presidential impersonator Steve Bridges as George W. Bush. In the end, though, the politically-charged routine -- reportedly toned down after the heckling in New York -- turned out to be a paper tiger filled with mild barbs about the commander in chief.
The crowd (which included former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Democratic congressman Richard Gephardt) seemed to lap it up from start to finish. Miss Streisand closed her D.C. gig (the fourth stop on a 17-city tour ending next month in Los Angeles) with the Leonard Bernstein-Sondheim composition "Somewhere" and "This Will Be My Shining Hour" before launching into two crowd-driven encores: a reprise of "Don't Rain on My Parade" and a rendition of Charlie Chaplin's "Smile"-- a finale that she dedicated to slain journalist Daniel Pearl.