“Bridges” can be ravishing, and the ace in this staging is Susan Derry, whose operatic soprano is exactly right for Francesca, the Italian war bride pining away in 1965 Iowa after 20 years of marriage. Derry is wonderful with Francesca’s anxieties when her family leaves for a state fair and a handsome National Geographic photographer shows up in her driveway. Derry is naturally funny — this ultra-earnest romance needs that — and she sounds terrific as the score soars into Italian-inflected arias.
[Jason Robert] Brown’s glorious music and Marsha Norman’s sharp book elevate the material. It’s easy to like all the characters, which is remarkable (director Kurt Boehm’s appealing cast notably includes Chad Wheeler as Francesca’s perfectly fine husband, Bud). And the first act’s sweep of classical, pop, folk and country music is always a delight.