Boise’s Tablerock bluff served as the backdrop July 13 for Opera Idaho’s production of Oklahoma at the Idaho Botanical Garden.
“The focus is on the music, so it's not staged—no sets or costumes,” said Mark Junkert, general director at Opera Idaho.
Although Opera Idaho’s adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma was musically focused, the drama and plot line were still amusingly portrayed throughout the performance.
The cast, all Boise locals, filled the garden with their big voices, backed by a 14-piece orchestra. The audience sprawled out in fold-up chairs and blankets, passing around bottles of wine, laughing in harmony with the cast and singing along to the much-beloved lyrics.
The mid-summer heat broke just in time to offer opera-goers a perfect evening with a cloud-covered sky, cool breeze, and slight red hue in the air as the sun began to set after intermission.
The bumpy romance between leading characters Curly, a cowboy, and Miss Laurey, a farm girl, was portrayed seamlessly, backed by the stage chemistry between the two actors.
“The two main characters represent opposite ends of some spectrum,” said Junkert. “Jason Detwiler, who plays the role of Curly, is Idaho’s premier full-time professional opera singer, and then his romantic interest in Miss Laurey is, for us, a debut person, Jena Carpenter. So we’ve got one starting and one firmly going in this career.”
Detwiler was clearly no stranger to the stage, belting out a cowboy swagger and charm as big and believable as his voice. Many laughs were had as Detwiler, after being introduced as Curly, removed his cowboy hat to expose his hairless head, stating, “Curly-headed ain't I.”
Opera Idaho’s adaption of Oklahoma also cleverly worked in as many Idaho references as possible, resulting in large applause from the crowd and an inability for performers to keep straight faces.
References included “the most beautiful” Idaho potato ever, an elixir of Kuna, which was a special formula belonging to the Simplot family and the much-debated-over Five Wives Vodka.
The Five Wives reference was followed up by a scripted comment: “Sure, that’s the way they do 'em in those states.”
To further the hee-hawing hilarity, real-life father and son opera members Scott and David Noland were cast in the roles of two men fighting for the love of the flirtatious Ado Annie, played by Tiffany Calas.
The show closer, title song Oklahoma, got the crowd up, clapping and belting out the song, right along with the cast.
Opera Idaho will repeat its performance of Oklahoma! today, July 15, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15-$69. Idaho Botanical Garden, 2355 Old Penitentiary Road, 208-343-8649, idahobotanicalgarden.org.