Opera Scotland

Trouble in Tahiti

Music

Leonard Bernstein (Born Lawrence, Mass., 25 August 1918; died New York. 14 October 1990)

Text

The Composer.

 

Premieres

First PerformanceL Waltham, Massachusetts (Brandeis University), 12 June 1952.

First Performance in UK: London (Sadler's Wells Theatre), tbc.

First Performance in Scotland: Ledlanet, Kinross-shire, 23 September 1964.

 

Background

Trouble in Tahiti is a chamber opera that met with some early success in the USA through being televised. While much of the music is tuneful and cheerful, with many parodies of film music and advertising jingles. But the plot takes quite an acid view of the marriage of Sam and Dinah, focussing on the lengths they will each go to to avoid communicating with one another. The title represents a piece of empty, escapist cinema that they go to in the evening, Sam being unaware that Dinah had already seen it earlier in the day.

 

Characters

Dinah (mezzo-soprano)

Sam, her husband (baritone)

Jazz trio (soprano, tenor, bass)

 

Plot Summary

The opera takes place over seven scenes during one day, revolving around Sam's time at work and Dinah at home leading the life of a bored housewife. Their scenes, together or separate, are punctuated by jazzy jingle-like contributions from the vocal trio. The couple's breakfast together is tense. We then see Sam wheeling aand dealing before we see Dinah consulting her psychiatrist. The couple meet by accident at midday but invent excuses to avoid lunching together. After their separate lunches Sam plays handball, while Dinah fritters away the afternoon at the cinema, seeing a barely passable musical called Trouble in Tahiti. Their evening at home is again tense, but rather that thrash out their difficulties, they go to the cinema. Dinah can't even tell her husband that she has already seen Trouble in Tahiti.

The Cast

Dinah
 a suburban wife in her early thirties
Sam
 Dinah's husband, the same age
Trio
 a Greek Chorus, born of the Radio Commercial

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