Bernstein's ‘Trouble in Tahiti’ + Heggie's ‘At the Statue of Venus’
SFJAZZ Logo
Cart Cart(0)
Celebrating Bernstein's 100th
Celebrating Bernstein’s 100th — His Classic 1952 Opera

Bernstein's ‘Trouble in Tahiti’

+ Heggie's ‘At the Statue of Venus’

Feb 15 - Feb 18
Miner Auditorium

Celebrating composer Leonard Bernstein’s centennial, SFJAZZ and San Francisco’s Opera Parallèle re-team for this world premiere production that links Bernstein’s classic 1952 one-act opera Trouble in Tahiti with San Francisco-based composer Jake Heggie’s 2005 work At the Statue of Venus – a unique San Francisco-only collaboration that celebrates the American voice in opera and its continuing legacy, featuring a cutting-edge production including atmospheric visual projections, costumes, and staging.

The only piece for which Bernstein wrote both the music and the libretto, Trouble in Tahiti presents a day in the life of Sam and Dinah, a young couple whose loveless union defies the stereotypical ideal of marital bliss in "picture perfect" suburban America, written between Bernstein’s Broadway triumphs of On the Town in 1944 and West Side Story in 1957. The work is a biting commentary on the search for love and need for communication in the materialistic era of post-war bliss, marked by the composer's jazzy musical approach that employs a vocal trio as the “Greek chorus” and features the songs “What a Movie!,” “There’s a Law,” and “Island Magic”. With a title that compares the promised suburban utopia of the newly-affluent middle class in America to a sunlit tropical paradise, Trouble in Tahiti is an incisive and pointedly relevant cultural touchstone that explores the deception behind the mid-century idea of the “American Dream,” created at a time when the media-perpetuated concept of suburban happiness was at its height after World War II. The piece premiered at Brandeis University’s Festival of Creative Arts for an audience of 3,000, and made its Broadway debut in 1955 as part of a multi-work evening with 27 Wagons Full of Cotton by Tennessee Williams.

The longtime director of the New York Philharmonic who became a household name with his 1957 score to West Side Story, Bernstein built a uniquely inclusive, modernist approach to composition that fully embraced the popular song forms of the day, making him the most jazz-influenced “classical” composer of the 20th century, and among the most innovative of all time.

Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes, including one intermission.
There is no late seating.

Inspired by the scenas of Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart, composer and Guggenheim Fellowship recipient Jake Heggie’s At the Statue of Venus is a scene scored for soprano and piano and featuring a libretto by Tony-winning playwright and librettist Terrence McNally. In it, an expectant young woman waits in a museum by a statue of the Goddess of Love for her blind date to arrive, ruminating on who she may meet and what her future may hold.

For this exciting production, Opera Parallèle Creative Director Brian Staufenbiel seamlessly links the two works with a before and after narrative that explores the struggles, victories, and revelations that occur in one’s quest for “happiness,” in which the sole character Rose in At the Statue of Venus becomes the wife Dinah from Trouble in Tahiti. We see what becomes of a young woman waiting for a blind date in a museum and what might happen after getting married and living the comfortable life of a housewife in suburban America.

Opera Parallèle Website

Trouble in Tahiti Background

Leonard Bernstein at 100 (Los Angeles Times)

An Operatic Pairing About Troubled Relationships (KQED)

Love grows and falls apart in operatic double bill of Heggie and Bernstein (SFGATE)

More

Bernstein's classic 1952 opera about love, happiness, and a troubled young marriage in “picture perfect” suburban America.

A condensed masterpiece of sociological satire and emotional depth ... the two one-act works meshed beautifully together.

San Francisco Chronicle

A condensed masterpiece of sociological satire and emotional depth ... the two one-act works meshed beautifully together.

San Francisco Chronicle

Personnel

Thursday, Feb 15, 7:30pm Cast: Abigail Levis/Eugene Brancoveanu
Friday, Feb 16, 7:30pm Cast: Renée Rapier/Kyle Albertson
Saturday, Feb 17, 3:00pm Cast: Renée Rapier/Kyle Albertson
Saturday, Feb 17, 7:30pm Cast: Abigail Levis/Eugene Brancoveanu
Sunday, Feb 18, 3:00pm Cast: Abigail Levis/Eugene Brancoveanu
Sunday, Feb 18, 7:30pm Cast: Renée Rapier/Kyle Albertson

CAST
Rose/Dina: Renée Rapier/Abigail Levis 
Sam: Eugene Brancoveanu/Kyle Albertson
Jazz Trio: Krista Wigle, Andres Ramirez, Bradley Kynard

ARTISTIC TEAM
Artistic Director/Conductor: Nicole Paiement
Creative Director/Stage Director: Brian Staufenbiel
Mixed Media Collage Artist: Sherry Parker
Media Designer: David Murakami
Choreographer: Amy Seiwert
Set Designer: Dave Dunning
Lighting Designer: Matthew Antaky
Costume Designer: Christine Crook
Wig & Make Up Designer: Sophia Smith

Brought to life by an excellent cast and fine instrumental ensemble, 'Trouble in Tahiti' shines as the engaging, moving, and oft-delightful romp that Bernstein intended.

San Francisco Classical Voice

Personnel

Thursday, Feb 15, 7:30pm Cast: Abigail Levis/Eugene Brancoveanu
Friday, Feb 16, 7:30pm Cast: Renée Rapier/Kyle Albertson
Saturday, Feb 17, 3:00pm Cast: Renée Rapier/Kyle Albertson
Saturday, Feb 17, 7:30pm Cast: Abigail Levis/Eugene Brancoveanu
Sunday, Feb 18, 3:00pm Cast: Abigail Levis/Eugene Brancoveanu
Sunday, Feb 18, 7:30pm Cast: Renée Rapier/Kyle Albertson

CAST
Rose/Dina: Renée Rapier/Abigail Levis 
Sam: Eugene Brancoveanu/Kyle Albertson
Jazz Trio: Krista Wigle, Andres Ramirez, Bradley Kynard

ARTISTIC TEAM
Artistic Director/Conductor: Nicole Paiement
Creative Director/Stage Director: Brian Staufenbiel
Mixed Media Collage Artist: Sherry Parker
Media Designer: David Murakami
Choreographer: Amy Seiwert
Set Designer: Dave Dunning
Lighting Designer: Matthew Antaky
Costume Designer: Christine Crook
Wig & Make Up Designer: Sophia Smith

Brought to life by an excellent cast and fine instrumental ensemble, 'Trouble in Tahiti' shines as the engaging, moving, and oft-delightful romp that Bernstein intended.

San Francisco Classical Voice

Watch & Listen

Leonard Bernstein

Trouble in Tahiti: Scene III

Leonard Bernstein

Trouble in Tahiti: Scene VI

Leonard Bernstein

Trouble in Tahiti: Scene III

Leonard Bernstein

Trouble in Tahiti: Scene VI