Two major events affected the outcome of “A Wedding,” the William Bolcom operetta based on the movie of several years ago. The opera is on the stage of Kimball Recital Hall on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus.
First was the visit of Bolcom to the Glenn Korff School of Music earlier this year. Bolcom was able to help staff and actors conceptualize the opera.
Second was the last-minute inability of Joshua Zink, who played the role of Snooks, the father of the bride, to be on stage Friday night due to a family emergency.
Enter Eric Martens, who was understudy for the role of Randolph. Martens undertook the Snooks role with music in hand and did a handsome job with just a day’s preparation.
A well-balanced cast of singers highlights “A Wedding.” Voices matched one another well. Duets, especially, found voices working to match each other. A good example was Robert McNichols (as Randolph), guest artist with a substantial opera pedigree, joining Kristen Swenson (Diana) in the “Randy, we can marry now” duet near the show’s end.
Angela Gilbert played a strong role as Tulip. It’s her first try at real opera, and her stage actions worked in favor with her rich voice. Jesse LaBrie’s caricature of Jules carried both a substantial singing voice with the sometimes-funny, sometimes-serious role.
A big vote of kudos goes to the UNL Symphony Orchestra and conductor Tyler White. White must have spent countless hours working with players to carefully attain Bolcom’s repeated dissonance and close harmonies. Near-perfect orchestral tuning is essential and was well displayed.
The staging is well done and well lit. Maids and Security Guards not only play chorus roles on stage, they also move scenery pieces with well-oiled coordination.
All in all, the production of “A Wedding” is one of the best UNL Opera productions yet, and well worth taking in.