Leonard Bernstein (1918 - 1990) - Trouble in Tahiti
Recorded live on: 18th March 2010
Duration: 46 minutes
Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
Trouble in Tahiti
opera in one act - seven scenes
libretto by the composer
UK premiere of reduced orchestration by Garth Sunderland
Trouble in Tahiti is a brilliant pastiche of pop music and melodrama, showing Leonard Bernstein at his most bitingly ironic, and yet, at the same time, most personal and sincere. Ranging from the jingle-like crooning of the vocal trio to major, show-stopping serio-comic arias for the main characters Sam and Dinah, the music pulls out every pop-cultural 1950s stop, while never losing sight of the genuine pathos of its characters: a couple in a troubled marriage, desperate to find the way back to that 'Quiet Place' of their love for one another.
The reduced orchestration - behind the
A 45-minute, one-act opera, with a small cast of five and minimal staging requirements, Trouble in Tahiti - composed in 1952 - is ideal for intimate venues and small companies. But a tricky obstacle has always been its orchestra - a bare minimum of 26 players (assuming only a string quintet rather than the preferred full string sections).
In creating this new orchestration, writes Garth Sunderland, I wanted to remain faithful to Bernstein's original intentions and the reduction takes a 'one of each' chamber orchestra approach, with a 15 piece instrumentation. While this orchestration, premiered in 2009, cannot be a true substitute for Bernstein's brilliant original, I hope that it might allow more performers and audiences the chance to experience this hilarious, exuberant melancholy opera.
Trouble in Tahiti - a snapshot
The trio croons about the bliss of suburban life as an introduction to Sam's and Dinah's angry breakfast conversation. We then see Sam engaging in questionable dealings at work while Dinah tells her (unseen) psychiatrist of her frustration with her life and her longing to escape to a dream garden, a quiet place. She and Sam accidentally meet on the street and (to their brief regret) avoid lunching together on the pretext of having prior engagements. That afternoon Sam gloats about a handball triumph while Dinah goes to see a film; they both miss their son's school play. Later they try to discuss their problems but give up and go to a film instead - the same escapist fantasy of glamorous exotic love that Dinah had seen earlier in the day, Trouble in Tahiti. The opera was later incorporated in its entirety by Bernstein into the second act of his sequel opera, A Quiet Place (1983/4).
Garth Sunderland is a composer and interdisciplinary artist. He is Artistic Director of the Lost Dog New Music Ensemble, and Music Editor for the Leonard Bernstein Office.
Jane Harrington soprano
After training as an actress, Jane Harrington graduated from the Royal Academy of Music. Operatic engagements have included Morgana/Alcina (OTC), Cupid/Orpheus in the Underworld (Opera Holland Park), Varvara/Katya Kabanova (ETO) Little Moon/A Night at the Chinese Opera (Scottish Opera), Virtue andAmore/L'Incoronazione di Poppea (ENO), Soprano /'Three Water Plays' by Detlev Glanert (Almeida Opera), Belinda/Dido and Aneas (ETO), Savitri (cover)/Savitri and Baroness (cover)/Der Wildschütz (Buxton Festival). Recent concert engagements include soprano soloist for Raymond Gubbay's Viennese gala at the Barbican with LPO, and future highlights include Morgana/ Alcina (OTC) at the Buxton Festival, Lucy/The Beggar's Opera (Opera Project) and cover Susanna The Marriage of Figaro (Scottish Opera).
Catherine Hopper Dinah
Catherine Hopper studied at the Royal Academy of Music and the National Opera Studio. Recent and forthcoming roles include Kitchen Boy/Rusalka with Opera North' Hänsel for Opera Holland Park, Popova/The Bear for Mahogany Opera' Lucretia/The Rape of Lucretia' Ramiro/La Finta Giardiniera, Mezzo-Actress/A Night at the Chinese Opera' Zita/Gianni Schicchi and Marta/Yolanta (all for RAO), Second Lady/Die Zauberflöte at Clonter' Mme. Larina/Eugene Onegin and Mrs. Herring/Albert Herring for British Youth Opera. Concerts include Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the RPO and Vaughan Williams's Serenade to Music at the BBC Proms.
Ashley Catling tenor
Ashley Catling studied at the GSMD and the National Opera Studio. Performances include Ernesto/Don Pasquale (New Zealand Opera)' Don Ottavio/Don Giovanni (Opera Zuid)' Nanki-Poo/The Mikado (Nationale Reisopera)' Fenton/Falstaff, Apollo/Orfeo' Kudryas/Katya Kabanova' Giannetto/La Gazza Ladra and Tamino/The Little Magic Flute (Opera North)' Ferrando/Così fan tutte and Nadir Der Stein der Weisen (pastiche opera) (Garsington)' Nadir/Les Pêcheurs de Perles (Dorset Opera)' 1st Armed Man/Die Zauberflöte (Glyndebourne on Tour)' Tamino (Castleward)' Normanno/Lucia di Lammermoor (Opera Holland Park)' David Horne's Friend of the People (Scottish Opera)' Gawain/Gawain and the Green Knight (Music Theatre Wales).
Dean Robinson Sam baritone
Born in Australia, Dean Robinson studied at the Royal Northern College of Music. For the Royal Opera he has sung roles in Lohengrin, Palestrina, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Ariadne auf Naxos. He has also sung for ENO, WNO, Scottish Opera, Opera North, Mid Wales Opera, Garsington, Netherlands Opera, the Rossini Festival in Pesaro and Pinchgut Opera in Australia. Roles include Figaro, Leporello, Don Magnifico and Colline as well as Lindorf/Coppélius/Dr Miracle/Dapertutto in The Tales of Hoffman. He has performed with orchestras including the LSO, OAE, Northern Sinfonia and BBC SO, recorded for Opera Rara, Chandos and LSO Live and sung in two opera films for Channel 4.
Quentin Hayes bass-baritone
Since winning the VARA Dutch Radio Prize in 1993 at the Belverdere Singing Competition, Vienna, Quentin Hayes has sung roles with all the leading UK opera companies including English National Opera and the Royal Opera House, where he was on contract as a principal for five years (2000-05). He has worked with most of the major contemporary ensemble, is recognised for his interpretation of the music of Hans Werner Henze, and has appeared in Ades's The Tempest in Amsterdam, Stephen Oliver's Timon of Athens, Schnittke's Life with an Idiot (both ENO) Nicholas Maw's Sophie's Choice and Birtwistle's Gawain and the Green Knight (both ROH) and René Koering's Scènes de Chasse (Montpellier). He has sung in major choral works with many leading orchestras and at international festivals and as well as making television appearances and a number of recordings.
Nicholas Kok conductor
Nicholas Kok is an extremely versatile conductor. In the concert hall, opera house and on radio he has conducted many world and British premieres. He is currently Principal Conductor/Artistic Advisor to Psappha, with which he has recorded and toured extensively. He has conducted numerous productions with ENO, Opera North, Stuttgart Staatsoper, Cologne Opera and Almeida Opera as well as at the Edinburgh International Festival, BBC Proms and in Aldeburgh. Orchestral engagements include the Philharmonia, LPO, BBC Symphony Orchestra, CBSO, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Hallé. He has recorded for Opera Rara and Chandos. Future plans include concerts with Northern Sinfonia, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and NYOS.
Elaine Tyler-Hall director
Elaine Tyler-Hall works full-time with ENO and has directed the revivals of The Cunning Little Vixen, Orpheus and Eurydice, The Fairy Queen , Rigoletto and Tosca in London and also travelled with Orpheus and Eurydice to New York City Opera, The Cunning Little Vixen to La Fenice, La Scala, Teatro de la Maestranza and Israeli Opera, and Semele to Zurich. Her freelance work has included directing and choreographing The Soldier's Tale, Vesalii Icones and The Lighthouse for Psappha, Eugene Onegin and La traviata for Riverside Opera, Orpheus and Eurydice for Blackheath Halls, and choreographing The Greek Passion (ROH) and Benvenuto Cellini (Zurich). She choreographed and assisted on the world premiere of Maxwell Davies's Mr Emmet Takes a Walk, which she restaged for the Kammeroper Vienna where she has also directed La Finta Giardiniera.
Aaron Marsden designer
Aaron Marsden studied theatre design in his native Australia. Early in his career he designed the set for the film Moulin Rouge directed by Baz Luhrmann. Recent British credits include The Lighthouse (Psappha at Buxton Festival and on tour); La Traviata (Riverside Opera); Opera Scenes (Birkbeck College); Orpheus and Eurydice and La Bohème (Blackheath Halls); Eugene Onegin (Riverside Opera); Truckstop (Edinburgh Fringe and UK tour); The Beaver Coat (Finborough Theatre); Steam (The White Bear; Courtyard Theatre); Black & White Sextet and I'm An Asylum Seeker...Get Me Into Here (Rosemary Branch). Future plans include Brassed Off in Lichfield.
Marc Rosette lighting designer
Marc Rosette graduated from Croydon College's Theatre Design course in 1996, specialising in lighting design. Since then his extensive career has taken him across Europe and the UK. In the past 10 years he has mainly worked in opera for both the Royal Opera and English National Opera, collaborating with leading directors and designers from around the world. Design credits include Orpheus, La Bohème (Blackheath Halls), The Lighthouse (Psappha in Buxton and on tour), Double Tongue (Border Crossings, UK and European tour), Handel in London, The Magic Flute (ENO Bayliss), Time Of My Life, Just Between Ourselves, Waiting for Micky (Theatre Colwyn).
Specialising in the performance of music by living composers and that of the 20th and 21st centuries, Psappha was formed in 1991 by its Artistic Director Tim Williams. The ensemble has an extensive and exceptionally varied repertoire of hundreds of works and a reputation for technical assurance and interpretive flair. It won the Manchester Evening News Award for Opera in 2000 and has been shortlisted for a prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society award on two occasions in recent years.
Psappha has commissioned and premiered many works by a wide range of composers including the award-winning music-theatre work, Mr Emmet Takes a Walk, by its Patron Peter Maxwell Davies, released on the ensembles own label.
Psappha has appeared throughout the UK, at most of the country's major music festivals, including the BBC Proms, in special Henze and Maxwell Davies portrait series in London's South Bank, and in a residency at the St. Magnus Festival, Orkney in 2009.
It has made highly successful tours to North and South America, Australia, Belgium, France, Holland, Ireland, Jersey, Portugal and Spain. In addition to six recordings on various labels, it launched its own CD label in 2004 with Maxwell Davies's Eight Songs for a Mad King and Miss Donnithorne's Maggot.
Psappha is developing its online presence with a number of concerts available to view as webcasts and also the development of its 'Composition Lab' for 12 - 18 year olds. Education projects for people of all ages represent an important part of Psappha's schedule both in the UK and abroad. It was awarded the Swatch City Life Award for Best Concert Series and Education Work and is currently The University of Manchester's Contemporary Ensemble in Association.
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