by Mike Telin
When Leonard Bernstein wrote his one-act opera Trouble in Tahiti in 1951, Harry Truman was president, unemployment was at 3.3%, and new roads were built to accommodate the increasing numbers of cars. A gallon of gas cost 19 cents, a loaf of bread 16 cents, and a dozen eggs 24 cents. I Love Lucy debuted on television, Disney’s Alice in Wonderland was released in movie theaters, and, the American Dream could only be achieved by moving to the suburbs.
This week, Oberlin Opera Theater will celebrate the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein with a tribute that includes Trouble in Tahiti along with music from his hit Broadway shows West Side Story, Candide, On the Town, and Wonderful Town. Performances take place in Hall Auditorium at 8:00 pm on Wednesday, November 7, Friday, November 9, and Saturday, November 10, and at 2:00 pm on Sunday, November 11. Raphael Jiménez leads the Oberlin Orchestra. Tickets are available online.
“The opera is a social commentary on life in suburbia,” Oberlin Opera Theater Director Jonathon Field said during an interview. Trouble in Tahiti opens with a jazz vocal trio espousing the virtues of living in a little white house in places such as Scarsdale, Highland Park, and Shaker Heights. “They’re singing about what was supposed to be the good life and all the things you were supposed to strive for. But Sam and Dinah discover that in reality, the idyllic 1950s suburban life in America is not all it’s cracked up to be.” [Read more…]