Trouble in Tahiti is a one-act opera in seven acts, composed by Leonard Bernstein, who is perhaps best known for his musical West Side Story. It is one of Bernstein’s darker and more autobiographical works, based on the relationship between the composer’s parents, combining themes of domestic struggle and breakdown with operatic melodrama, performed here by Opera North at The Lowry in Salford.
The opera is set in the 1950s, and opens with a jazz trio (Laura Kelly-McInroy, Joseph Shovelton, Nicholas Butterfield) singing about domestic bliss in an unspecified suburb in the form of a radio advertisement for the American Dream. The reality, however, is very different, as we soon follow the story of Sam (Quirijn de Lang) and Dinah (Sandra Piques Eddy), a young couple whose marriage is collapsing and who bicker constantly under the watchful gaze of their young son Junior (Isaac Sarsfield). Their story unfolds over the course of a day, as they each go about their activities before engaging in a fitful and uncertain reconciliation.
This production, directed by Matthew Eberhardt was full of energy and the performers were superb given the minimal dramatic material, particularly Piques Eddy with the soulful “I Was Standing In a Garden”. The orchestra is the highlight of the show, however, conducted alternately by Antony Hermus and Martin Pickard. While neither the subject matter nor the music provides the best introduction to opera or to Bernstein’s work for newcomers, this is nevertheless a splendid production that deserves wide support. https://www.operanorth.co.uk/whats-on/bernstein-double-bill-2021/
Reviewer: Amanda Hodgson
Reviewed: 11th November 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★