Featured image – Frances Carlile and Kate Wilmot.
Rockdale Opera Company’s production of THE BARTERED BRIDE, a comic Czech opera, is a fine night’s entertainment.
The original version of the opera by Bedrich Smetana premiered in Prague in 1886 with the first English version at Sadlers Wells in 1935.
Director Luise Napier has very successfully updated the words to suit the present day and apart from some judicious cuts musical director Julia de Plater has maintained the music as originally composed.
The road sign for kangaroos, koalas in the tree and a dunny ensure there can be no mistaking the setting has been changed from the original Bohemian country village to a rural town in Australia. This shift works very well as it is a small Czech community celebrating May Day. Much of the original culture is preserved such as a czech folk dance around a may pole, yet comic highlights are added with touches such as the dancing koala and the occasional use of a broad Australian accent.
The story involves the secret love between Mařenka and Jenik but as the villagers gather to celebrate the festivities of the day these two do not join in as Mařenka’s parents are arranging her marriage to Vasek, wealthy grazier Micha’s son.
It is against this backdrop that stories of love, arranged and unarranged, are played out with a great deal of bargaining on all sides, especially by Kecal, the marriage broker who is assured of a good commission should he succeed.
Relationships and assignations are put to the test against a carnival atmosphere, with the inevitable happy ending, although perhaps not quite as expected.
The talented principal cast is wonderfully led by Joshua Oxley as Jenik and Georgia Kokkoris as Mařenka. Christopher Curcuruto as Kecal is excellent as the devious marriage broker as is Blake Parham as the initially simpering Vašek.
The principal cast is very ably supported by a strong ensemble and the third act after interval comes excitingly to life with several circus acts performed by the dancers.
You will have to be quick to catch this night at the Opera, THE BARTERED BRIDE is only playing the Rockdale Town Hall until November 20.