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The Sunday Opera: Two by Bernstein: "Trouble in Tahiti" and "A Quiet Place"

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The Sunday Opera (4/8 3:00 p.m.) will, in its small way, be celebrating the centennial year of Leonard Bernstein’s birth with an afternoon of his two major operas: “Trouble in Tahiti,” and its sequel “A Quiet Place.”  “Trouble in Tahiti” had its world premiere at Brandeis University as part of their Festival of Creative Arts.  The barely finished opera which had a problematic physical production, was not particularly well received, but it was reworked and performed at Tanglewood before appearing on television, all in 1952.  

This look at Post-War America and the troubled relationship of a couple, Dinah and Sam, looking for intimacy was well received when it aired on TV.  That production starred Beverly Woolf and David Atkinson who will be performing the roles they created on this week’s program.  The second opera, “A Quiet Place,” was written in 1983 as a one-act and subsequently expanded into a three-act opera in 1986.  It takes place shortly after Dinah’s death and deals with Sam trying to deal with his memories of their relationship and his strained relationship with their two children Dede and Junior who are both dealing with their relationship with Francois who was Junior’s boyfriend and is now Dede’s husband.  For this performance, we’ll hear Charles Ludgin as “Old Sam” and Wendy White and Edward Crafts as Dinah and Sam in the flashback sequences of Old Sam’s memories.  After the operas, we’ll have just enough time to enjoy Bernstein’s joyous settings of psalms 108, 100, 23, 2, 131, and 133, in his Chichester Psalms.

Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.