Preloader Operavision
Alastair Muir
25.08.2018 at 19h00 CET
Saturday, August 25, 2018 - 19:00

Opera North

Trouble in Tahiti

On the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein's birth, (re)discover the American composer’s first opera in which jazz rhythms trouble suburban bliss.

Operas | Bernstein

Sung in English.

English, French and German subtitles available with possibility of auto-translation into 114 other languages.

Available from
25.08.2018 at 19h00 CET

Available until
24.02.2019 at 23h59 CET

SamQuirijn de Lang
DinahWallis Giunta
TrioFflur Wyn, Joseph Shovelton, Nicolas Butterfield
JuniorCharlie Southby


MusicLeonard Bernstein
ConductorTobias Ringborg
DirectorMatthew Eberhardt
Set DesignerCharles Edwards and George Leigh
Costume DesignerHannah Clark
Lighting DesignerBen Pickersgill and Charles Edwards
Movement DirectorTim Claydon

In a radio studio, a jazz Trio sings of a dream life in Suburbia.

In their suburban home, a married couple, Sam and Dinah, argue over breakfast. Dinah accuses Sam of having an affair with his secretary, which he denies. She also reminds him that their son Junior is appearing in the school play that afternoon. Sam says that he can’t go to watch because he is playing in a crucial handball tournament at the gym.

At work, Sam deftly handles business by telephone and agrees to lend money to a friend. The Trio extols Sam’s virtues.

In her analyst’s office, Dinah recounts her dream of an untended garden, choked with weeds. In the dream, she hears a voice calling to her, describing another garden – a place of love and harmony. Meanwhile, at the office, Sam interrogates his secretary about his behaviour towards her.

By chance, Sam and Dinah run into each other on the street. Both invent excuses to avoid having lunch together. Alone, they each wonder where their relationship went wrong.

In an Interlude, the Trio extols family life in Suburbia.

At the gym, Sam has just won the handball tournament. He reflects triumphantly on the law of men – how they are created unequal: some try as they might lose, while others, like him, win.

Dinah has spent the afternoon at the cinema watching a South Sea romance called Trouble in Tahiti. At first she dismisses it as technicolor drivel. But as she recalls the film’s story and the theme song, ‘Island Magic’, she becomes lost in its escapist fantasy. Then she stops herself and prepares dinner.

As he arrives home, Sam reflects on another law of men – that even the winner must pay for what he gets.

The Trio sings of evenings of domestic bliss in Suburbia. Sam and Dinah try to talk about their relationship, but the effort quickly peters out. Neither of them has gone to Junior’s play. Sam suggests they go to a movie – something about Tahiti; ‘Why not?’, Dinah says. As they leave, they express a longing to reconnect with each other; but for now they settle for the ‘bought-and-paid-for magic’ of the movies.