Well, another comedic opera review. I’m now convinced that I prefer comedic ones to dramatic. In dramatic operas, it always ends with either everyone or a fair chunk of people dead or in bad shape. The formula is strong, at times, but predictable. With comedic opera, you don’t have that problem. The plot can go all over the place! This was quite the show, brief as it was. While we are still not some big opera expert who is able to give you a hardcore breakdown, I will give you my thoughts. As with the Pirates of Penzance review I did, we shall follow the same format. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Let’s get started.
Since this opera was a single-act performance, the plot isn’t especially complicated. An Italian wealthy man named Tobias Mill has made a contract with an American wealthy man named Slook. The contract would have his daughter, Fanny, marry him. However, Fanny already has a man who she is in love with, Edoardo. Thus begins a three-way effort for people to get what they want, which is hilarious.
Alright, first, let’s talk about the problems we had. As with Pirates of Penzance, it will be short. The firs was, again, the announcer. The guy went on for far too long about the accolades, thanks and opportunities for the future, making very sure to make us all feel like we are the heroes of the story. Having just finished a class on running a non-profit organization, we get why he is doing it. You want your donors to feel important, along with the audience who is paying to see your work. But at the same time, dude, we are behind you. You don’t have to make a big deal out of it. We are there because we support you and you can shorten the accolades part down.
The other thing that got to me, and this is me being totally nit-picky, was Edoardo’s outfit. A plaid suit does nothing for us. For real, it just bugs us. Yes, we get how anal that makes us sound, but so be it. His part was good and we have no issue with the character outside of his outfit.
Now, on to the good stuff, of which there was a lot. First, the set designs were very quaint. As was the place they were performing, at Alaska Pacific University’s Grant Hall. It was a very homey place. As was the set. It looked very much like a home, with a black cloth being used to hide the orchestra behind it. A clever trick that made for a seamless blending of elements, since there was no orchestra pit.
Then there was the outfit designs. The plaid suit aside, these were very classy looks. It was very reminiscent of the 1920’s, which was what they were shooting for. The butler’s attire was classy and fit the bill perfectly. Fanny looked just like a woman at that time. They weren’t especially complicated, but it was definitely nice to see.
Then there is the orchestral music. Unlike a typical opera, there wasn’t a very large ensemble in this group. It worked very well and they played up both the funny recitatives and dramatic arias. It may not have been complicated, but they were very useful when they needed to be.
But, like any opera, it all comes down to the spoken music. Man was that good! While everyone in the cast was great, there were a couple of roles that stood out to me. The first was the American, Slook, played by Michael Smith. There was something so winsome about the guy. He had this arrogant charm that was so much fun to listen to. The next person was the one who played Tobias Mill, Kyle Gantz. Oh my god did he own this role! From the over-the-top facial expressions to the way he emphasized where he needed to, it is definitely worth giving a shout-out to. Since he was so central to all the conflicts of the opera, his character had to be given the best performance, which he did.
Another role that we want to talk about is a silent one. There was a servant who never spoke or sang, yet every time he was on-stage was hilarious! Silent background comedy is an under-appreciate art and it was all over this performance. I have no idea who this guy was, but bravo, sir. You made something that hasn’t been genuinely used in a long time and got us to laugh a great deal. It was like Bob in Tim Burton’s Batman. He was hardly ever around, but every time he was, it was fun to watch. Same here.
Overall, this was an excellent show. Getting to have fun like that is rare and we are very glad that we were invited to see the show. And now we get to the Final Verdict. Given how much fun this was, we are a little torn on what rating to give it. It was close, but have settled on a rating for The Marriage Contract. If you haven’t been able to see it live, we definitely recommend it.
8 out of 10