Beautiful voices light up comedy

Image: supplied
Image: supplied

Concert for Ukraine ...
An Incomplete Education
Opera Otago
Hanover Hall, Dunedin
Wednesday, March 22

On a dark and stormy night complicated by roadworks, where the doom and gloom was expressed almost everywhere outside the theatre, the comedic interlude - a touch of farcical implausibility - provided a welcome distraction for a capacity house at Hanover Hall on Wednesday.

Added to the mix was a convivial set and a lovely blend of good voices.

An Incomplete Education, staged by Opera Otago and directed by officiant Kim Morgan, is knowledge which doesn’t come from books.

On a wedding night, some things don’t always come naturally - not at first anyway. Therein lies the implausibility.

The rest - the apparent lack of such wisdom in all other quarters; the absence of adult guides beyond something unseen but obviously unpalatable to innocent eyes - is completely plausible of course.

Completing the education is what holds the humour, nicely paced in fine comedic fashion by the players.

Scott Bezett as the beset groom Gontran, Jemma Chester as the naive bride Helene and Frederico Freschi as Pausanias the best man are in fine voice.

Occasional faltered lines are neatly covered by Bezett; the best man’s drunkenness is executed with credible fumbles and falls, hiccups and falsetto squeaks; the bride’s demure obedience is very sweetly naive and dates the play.

From the opening number Ode to Wine sung by Freschi, to the duet Let Us Snuggle Close and trio Reprise, all are seamlessly and beautifully sung, and dramatically captured.

All off-stage contrivances work well. The action is centre stage with audience placed ringside allowing the players to confide in stage whispers. A central coffee table becomes the pivot point of the action.

The scene is set with recordings of famous crooners and pianist David Burchell accompanies the singers. Lighting, sound effects, costumes and hairstyles are all neatly done.