If you’ve never seen an opera before and if you’re unsure you want to dedicate a few hours out of your night to what could potentially be something not for you, then an operetta may be the perfect choice! An “Opera Starter Pack” as it were. Opera Australia’s latest production of Two Weddings, One Bride is one such operetta that would make a perfect choice. Funny, light-hearted and full of charm, and running at only one hour twenty-five minutes, it’s the ideal opportunity to do some opera sampling!
The comical storyline follows the rather blundering Governor Philippe (John Bolton Wood) as he attempts to do away with his gambling debts by marrying off his twin daughters Girofle and Girofla (both played by Julie Lea Goodwin). Overseen by his formidable wife Aurore (Geraldine Turner) the two girls are to be wed this evening to Marasquin (Nicholas Jones), the son of Philippe’s bankers, and Generale Modiliani (Andrew Jones), the second-in-command of Italian forces stationed nearby. However everything delves in to chaos when Girofla is kidnapped by nearby pirates. Unwilling to see the opportunity lost (and afraid of the volatile Modiliani) Philippe asserts that Girofle should also marry the Generale, pretending to be her twin until she is returned by the nearby Admiral. Hilarity ensues as Girofle is caught between two husbands and somewhat hapless parents, with no sight of Girofla!
The story weaves its way around a jukebox of operetta songs, waltzes and polkas from Strauss, Offenbach, Lehar, Kalman, Lecocq and Stolz. Some favourites were Jones’ stirring rendition of Lehar’s Dein ist mein ganzes Herz and of course Strauss’ bubbling Champagne Song. A pianist and violinist positioned to the side of the stage (and occasionally brought into the story!) accompany the voices. The dialogue is quick and amusing, with some delightful self-aware one-liners the likes of “what’s all this singing?”, “can can, more like can’t can’t” and “I have broken enough furniture, I am happy for now”.
Two Weddings, One Bride is the epitome of frivolous and an ideal starting point for opera newbies, or indeed a nice respite for opera regulars- as the story presents no great tragedies and dramatic ends. Instead it offers up an amusing tale set with joyful opera tunes, amongst a colourful set and pretty costumes. If opera were to be a pantomime (for adults) it would be this operetta. And, when paired with a nice dinner before or after, it makes for quite the perfect night out!
Two Weddings, One Bride will polka on stage at the Sydney Opera House until the 25th June, and then it will waltz on back from the 12th October. For more information and to book visit opera.org.au
Photo credit (c) Prudence Upton