Trouble in Tahiti

Trouble in Tahiti

Music and Libretto by Leonard Bernstein
First performed at Brandeis University on June 12, 1952
April 19, 20, and 21 (Matinée)
Performed in English

Present Day (Originally set in the 1950s), Suburban America
The opera focuses on the domestic conflict of Sam and Dinah, a young couple who, in contrast to the perfect picture of suburban life painted by the Trio, are desperately unhappy. Beginning with an argument over breakfast, the opera explores a typical day in their lives–Sam’s as a successful businessman and Dinah’s as a frustrated housewife. The couple argues about their son Junior, who is never seen or heard from. As the day continues, the competitive and over-confident Sam shows his prowess at the office and at the gym. Dinah visits her psychiatrist and recounts a dream of a beautiful, unattainable garden, then spends the afternoon at an escapist movie called Trouble in Tahiti. At the end of the day, profoundly aware of their unhappiness, Sam and Dinah try to have a frank discussion about their relationship. Unable to communicate without blaming each other and incessantly arguing, Sam suggests they go out to see a new movie–Trouble in Tahiti.

(adapted from

The evening continues as the cast of Trouble in Tahiti treats audiences to a special cabaret on the Union Avenue Opera stage, featuring clever and tuneful music from Bernstein’s songbook including: “Tonight” from West Side Story, “New York, New York” from On the Town, “Simple Song” from Mass, “Pennycandystore Beyond the El” from Songfest, and many more.

adapted from