Trouble in Tahiti & Rita

Two comic takes on marriage from Seattle Opera

The first opera about suburban soullessness, Leonard Bernstein’s 1952 one-act Trouble in Tahiti follows a middle-class couple through a despairingly typical day. Sam is a corporate climber who gets a blustering locker-room aria about winning, winning, winning, while the highlight of his bored wife Dinah’s day is sitting through a terrible South Seas romance film (hence the title), which she recounts in detail in her big scene. They bicker, they lie, they avoid each other. At the downbeat climax, they no longer even try to communicate—which Bernstein signals simply but devastatingly by letting his music drop out as the pair finish their dialogue spoken. No stabbings, no consumption; the tragedy in this opera is that they’re stuck with each other. Meanwhile, a backup trio adds ironic vocal commentary, scat-singing about the sun kissing the liddle white house, skiddly-doo-bop, in Scarsdale. . . in Shaker Heights. . . It’s a bit of a departure for Seattle Opera’s Young Artists Program, which usually sets its energetic, fresh-faced casts on comedies—like Donizetti’s 1841 Rita, another, considerably more farcical, look at domestic strife (its subtitle is The Battered Husband). The double-bill plays this weekend only.

Fri., Nov. 16, 8 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 17, 8 p.m., 2007

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