Leonard Bernstein's 'Trouble in Tahiti' coming to Southern California
What's the trouble with Leonard Bernstein's "Trouble in Tahiti"? The one-act opera about a married couple going through an emotionally difficult patch has had a complicated history. It was first performed in 1952 but never attained the popularity of many of Bernstein's other works. Later, the piece was often performed on a double bill with Bernstein's "A Quiet Place," since both works feature some of the same characters. Eventually, the composer incorporated "Tahiti" into "A Quiet Place" as an extended flashback.
In July, audiences in Southern California will get a rare opportunity to see a stand-alone "Trouble in Tahiti" courtesy of the Pacific Opera Project, a new group whose mission is to produce affordable opera featuring local talent. "Trouble in Tahiti" will be performed July 29 at 8 and 10 p.m. at the Santa Monica Playhouse, and on July 30 at 5 and 8 p.m. at Vitello's in Studio City.
With admission costing $15, it's an affordable way to experience one of Bernstein's more idiosyncratic works. The piece features a jazz-influenced score and normally runs about 40 minutes. The Pacific Opera Project's staging will run an estimated 75 minutes, because the company will also perform a pre-show of music by Bernstein. (The production will be accompanied by piano due to space limitations, the company said.)
Josh Shaw, the company's artistic director, said that the choice to produce "Trouble in Tahiti" was "to be as varied as possible and to reach as many people as we can. The main reason was to show that opera isn't always Mozart and Puccini."
Interest in "Trouble in Tahiti" saw a modest resurgence last year when the New York City Opera mounted "A Quiet Place," marking the opera's New York debut. The production featured "Tahiti" as a flashback sequence.
"Trouble in Tahiti" has been performed in L.A. before, including a 1986 staging in Los Feliz, directed by David Galligan.
-- David Ng
Photo: Leonard Bernstein. Credit: Erich Auerbach / Getty Images