Union Avenue Opera opens its 19th Festival Season with Leonard Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti this weekend, running April 19, 20 (8pm) and 21 (3pm). Audiences will see the candid portrait of a young suburban couple, Sam and Dinah, and their struggle to save their marriage as they long for the American dream. Experience the roller coaster of emotion as they try to reconcile their love.
Though the opera was originally set in the 1950s, Allyson Ditchey's production at UAO updates the action to the modern day. Mezzo Soprano Kara Cornell, Dinah in UAO's production, recently spoke on St. Louis Public Radio's Cityscape about the piece and its update: "There are marital issues in the 50s that are still pertinent today even though divorce is now respectable, even if it wasn't then." In a recent interview with The St. Louis Beacon, Baritone Ian Greenlaw, Sam in the production, explains a theme of distractions running through the piece:
"Bernstein mentions the radio jingles. Television was limited and new at the time of the 1951 opera. Instead of just the radio bombarding a couple with ads and other distractions, today couples have much more distractions," Greenlaw says. He constantly notices couples in restaurants and coffee shops reading text messages, using cell phones and checking email even when they are out as a couple. Some employers and friends expect responses to messages 24/7. You see it all the time," he says. "Distractions all the time."
Ditchey, in the same article, encourages audiences to attend because "it's a wonderful introduction to opera. It's in English with supertitles. And the story is very smart, as relevant today as it was when [Bernstein] wrote it."
After the one-act opera, the evening continues as the cast of Trouble in Tahiti treats audiences to a special cabaret on the UAO stage featuring clever and tuneful music from Bernstein's songbook including "Tonight" from West Side Story, "New York, New York" from On the Town, "Simple Song" from Mass, "Pennycandystore Beyond the El" from Songfest, and many more.
THE CAST and CREW
|Kara Cornell & Ian Greenlaw|
Union Avenue Opera presents a cast of veteran artists. Baritone Ian Greenlaw, who most recently sang the role of Danilo in Die lustige Witwe (2009), sings the role of Sam. Having last appeared as the wicked stepsister Tisbe in La Cenerentola (2011), Mezzo Soprano Kara Cornell sings the role of Dinah, Sam's wife. Three artists form a jazz trio commenting on the action: Soprano Elise LaBarge (seen last season in Acis and Galatea), Tenor Clark Sturdevant (Froh in last season's Das Rheingold) and Tenor Anthony Heinemann (Amelia's Servant in last season's Un Ballo in Maschera). Musical Director Henry Palkes leads a three-piece jazz combo onstage. Stage Director Allyson Ditchey, who last staged UAO’s Acis and Galatea, returns to stage the production.
|L to R: Elise LaBarge, Clark Sturdevant & Anthony Heinemann|
Local print and broadcast media are buzzing about UAO's season opening production! Sarah Bryan Miller interviews the cast, director and Scott Schoonover in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Patricia Rice speaks with cast and director for the St. Louis Beacon. You can also hear archived audio of Kara Cornell and Ian Greenlaw's interview with Steve Potter for Cityscape on 90.7 KWMU.
Trouble in Tahiti runs April 19, 20 (8pm) and April 21 (3pm) at Union Avenue Opera, 733 N. Union Blvd. Production sung in English with projected English supertitles. Tickets may be purchased online at www.unionavenueopera.org or by calling 314-361-2881.