It’s a brave move to take a relatively unknown work of opera and attempt to bring it to life. But to then turn it into a truly memorable show that leaves the audience with smiles from ear to ear is something to be applauded. Robert Andrew Greene has done just that with his adaption of Charles Lecocq’s story Giroflé-Girofla.

Set in French Morocco during the early-40s, Two Weddings, One Bride is a thrill to the senses – with plenty of laughs thrown in. Identical twins Giroflé, who has lived a life wearing blue, and Girofla, who has always dressed in pink (both played by soprano Julie Lea Goodwin) are set to be married and they’re excited, for they can finally shed the distinguishing colours that helped others tell them apart. Their father, the Governor of the French Colony in Morocco (John Bolton Wood), has arranged the perfect suitors – Marasquin, the son of a banker (Nicholas Jones) and General Modigliani, Second-in Command of the Italian forces (Andrew Jones) – whose dowries will rid him of his gambling debts. His wife Aurore (Geraldine Turner) has threatened to divorce him for his expensive habit so this is seemingly the best solution to get the family’s finances back in black.

Two Weddings, One Bride
Nicholas Jones as Marasquin, David Lewis as Padre, Andrew Jones as General Modigliani, Julie Lea Goodwin as Giroflé / Girofla, Geraldine Turner as Aurore and John Bolton Wood as Philippe in Opera Australia’s 2017 production of Two Weddings, One Bride. Photo credit: Prudence Upton

But come wedding day and there is one teeny-tiny problem – Girofla, who is set to wed the easily angered Italian General, has been taken by pirates. What ensues is a hilarious trickery instigated by mother and father to ensure the event goes on and that the bridegrooms remain happily unaware of the missing twin. And sister Giroflé finds herself unwillingly at the centre of it all. The over-the-top plotting and planning all adds to the charm of this little opera, and the many twists and turns are brilliantly acted out by the small cast, each of whom step neatly into their given roles with confidence, and breathtaking vocals.

The colourful events that take place throughout are complemented by many joyful melodies, played live by a violin and piano duo, and composed by a bevy of talents, including Johann Strauss, Jacques Offenbach, Franz Lehár, Emmerich Kalmán and Robert Stolz.

A pre-show champagne – a tipple idealised in several songs – is a fitting way to toast an evening out at the fun and frivolous Two Weddings, One Bride.

Two Weddings, One Bride is playing at the Sydney Opera House Playhouse until October 22, 2017.
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