Leonard Bernstein's "Trouble in Tahiti"
Trouble in Tahiti is a one-act opera in seven scenes composed by Leonard Bernstein with an English libretto by the composer, dedicated to Marc Blitzstein. It is the darkest among Bernstein’s “musicals”, and the only one for which he wrote the words as well as the music.
The opera received its first performance on 12 June 1952 at Bernstein’s Festival of the Creative Arts on the campus of Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts to an audience of nearly 3,000 people.
The NBC Opera Theatre subsequently presented the opera on television in November 1952, a production which marked mezzo-soprano Beverly Wolff’s professional debut in the role of Dinah. Wolff later reprised the role in the New York City Opera’s first staging of the work in 1958.
Cast and Production
Dinah - Jenny Gac, Sam - Matthew Samluk
Jazz Trio: Mezzo - Meredith Huveneer, Tenor - Tshombe Selby, Baritone - Amit Khaneja
Music Director/Pianist - Ishmael Wallace
Stage Director - Wayne Line
Trouble in Tahiti Performance History
Bernstein tried to make his opera as real as possible. He wanted everything about it to be believable. He even went to great lengths to write in language that would be heard in everyday speech during that time. “All the music [in Trouble in Tahiti] derives from American vernacular roots, as do the words. And the words are very carefully set so that they will sound in the American cadence and with the American kind of syncopated, almost slurred quality”.
While it was rumored that the troubled young couple was based on Leonard Bernstein himself and his new bride, Felicia Monteleagre -- he was working on the work during his honeymoon -- there is another theory that the story is based on the relationship of Bernstein’s own mother and father.
The work contains a strong attack on American suburbia. Although “Trouble in Tahiti” is a movie that the characters Sam and Dinah see -- Dinah sees it twice -- the title is also applicable to the life depicted in the opera. It should be Tahiti-like, that sun-kissed suburban life, with the neighborly butchers and parks for the kids. In fact it isn’t. There’s trouble. Trouble in Tahiti. Indeed.
The Mikado is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert, their ninth of fourteen operatic collaborations. It opened on 14 March 1885, in London, where it ran at the Savoy Theatre for 672 performances. Before the end of 1885, it was estimated that, in Europe and America, at least 150 companies were producing the opera.
Two Weekends in August - Aug 12 & 13 and 19 & 20 - Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm.
Cast and Production
The Mikado - John Weidemann
Katisha - Janice Meyerson
Ko-Ko - Alexander Friedlander
Nanki-Poo - Cole Tornberg
Pooh-Bah - Amit Khaneja
Pish-Tish - Nicholas Wuehrmann
Yum-Yum - Marcelle McGuirk
Peep-Bo - Joann Warford
Pitti-Sing - Mary Burkhart
Music Director/Pianist - Violetta Zabbi
Stage Director - Carol Castel
Assistant Stage Director - Wayne Line
Rehearsal Pianist - Miles Fellenberg
Chorus Master - Matthew Rupcich
Props Mistress - Meredith Huveneer
Costume Mistress - Nancy Hobbs
The Mikado - Performance History
On 4 September 1891, D’Oyly Carte’s touring company gave a Royal Command Performance of The Mikado at Balmoral Castle before Queen Victoria and the Royal Family. From 1885 until the Company’s closure in 1982, there was no year in which a D’Oyly Carte company was not presenting it.
European trade with Japan had increased in the 1860s and 1870s, resulting in an English craze for all things Japanese. This made the time ripe for an opera set in Japan. Gilbert told a journalist, “I cannot give you a good reason for our ... piece being laid in Japan. It ... afforded scope for picturesque treatment, scenery and costume, and I think that the idea of a chief magistrate, who is ... judge and actual executioner in one, and yet would not hurt a worm, may perhaps please the public.”
The title character appears only in Act II of the opera. Gilbert related that he and Sullivan had decided to cut the Mikado’s only solo song, but that members of the company and others who had witnessed the dress rehearsal “came to us in a body and begged us to restore it”.
After the Gilbert copyrights expired in 1962, the Sadler’s Wells Opera mounted the first non-D’Oyly Carte professional production in England. Among the many professional revivals since then was an English National Opera production in 1986, with Eric Idle as Ko-Ko and Lesley Garrett as Yum-Yum, directed by Jonathan Miller.
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Our Mission is to provide opportunities for area talent to study and perform a wide range of opera repertoire; to introduce opera to young people and the general public through performances, workshops and educational programs and to foster collaborations between creative and interpretive artists and technicians.
The Delaware Valley Opera is a member of the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance, the Arts Council for Sullivan County, NY. Our address is P.O. Box 446, Narrowsburg, NY, 12764 and phone (845) 887-3083.
The DVO has been in residence each summer at the Tusten Theatre since 1991. A town-owned, former movie house, the Tusten Theatre is located at 210 Bridge Street in Narrowsburg, and is managed by the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance.