|Quirijn de Lang as Sam in Trouble in Tahiti (Image courtesy Opera North)|
Bernstein wrote the libretto and music for Trouble in Tahiti and directed and conducted the premiere himself in June 1952 at the University of Brandeis, Massachusetts. Eager to make his one-act satirical opera seem as realistic as possible, Bernstein set it in the aftermath of World War II, a time when consumerism was spreading through society. His work had a number of autobiographical references and the male protagonist, Sam, shares his name with Bernstein’s father who left Russia to find the 'American Dream'.
The opera opens with a jingle performed by a musical trio who sing into the microphone of a recording studio. Bernstein wanted this trio to "never stop smiling". The jazz rhythms evoke the radio commercials of the time and the trio is reminiscent of an ancient Greek choir that satirically comments on the story.
Quirijn de Lang will be performing Danilo in Franz Lehár's The Merry Widow with Opera North beginning on September 29th and running through November 17th.