This Sunday night at 8 pm we have Leonard Bernstein conducting his own music - two songs from West Side Story, and his one act opera Trouble in Tahiti .
Trouble in Tahiti premiered in 1952. It's a satire, a dark satire, of suburban American life in the 1950's. Sam and Dinah have everything, the job in the city, the shiny bathrooms, the house, the child, a perfect setting for a fifties TV sitcom - Mr. Ed, or Father Knows Best, the post WW 2 American Dream come true - but they are miserable. They squabble, fail to show up at their son's ball game, and seek solace in material comforts or at the office and gym Their operatic misery plays out against the background of a bouncy trio celebrating the empty symbols of suburban life surrounding them. At the end they set out to see a movie, a South Sea Islands fantasy Dinah has already seen.
The performance we have is from 1973, a studio recording with Julian Patrick as Sam and Nancy Williams as Dinah. Antonia Butler, Michael Clarke and Mark Brown make up the trio. The libretto is by the composer and he conducts the Columbia Wind Ensemble.
Then two songs from West Side Story, the 1957 musical that remains Bernstein's most popular work. He only conducted the music once, for a 1984 recording from which these two songs are drawn. He cast Jose Carreas and Kiri te Kanawa as Tony and Maria, and they sing the music wonderfully. We have "Tonight" with Carreras and Te Kanawa, and then Tatania Troyanos joins Te Kanawa for "I Have a Love".