BWW Review: TROUBLE IN TAHITI AND GALLANTRY at Center Stage Theater
A rare treat this weekend only, Opera Santa Barbara presents an evening of one-act comic operas in the intimacy of Center Stage Theater. Leonard Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti will be performed along with Douglas Moore's broadly comic work, Gallantry. Both showcase the talents of Opera Santa Barbara's Chrisman Studio Artists (Chelsea Melamed, Byron Mayes, Elle Valera, and Jonathan Walker-VanKuren) in featured roles. Opera Santa Barbara's Artistic Director, Kostis Protopapas, praises these singers for their "charisma and charm combined with impeccable comedic timing."
The Trouble in Tahiti was the first opera written by Bernstein and it demonstrates the composer's signature integration of American speech and jazz-like rhythms. The one-act satirizes the ideal of marriage as it was constructed by the commercial culture of America's booming post-war economy. The story is told through a series of vignettes of a couple at a crossroads in their marriage. I'm looking forward especially to how stage director Alison Moritz, known for her inventive contemporary staging, will interpret the trio piece that sings the virtues of suburban commodity culture ( "up-to-date kitchen... and a little white house... fluoridated toothpaste").
Gallantry by composer Douglas Moore promises to balance out the satirical bite of Tahiti with its more farcical comic style. Gallantry takes place on the set of an American soap opera where the actors have lives zanier than the characters they portray. Known for his operas, The Devil and Daniel Webster and The Ballad of Baby Doe, Douglas Moore also worked as a stage actor. So, when he composes a soap opera within an opera, he knows of which he composes.
Best of all for audiences of this production, one may leave one's opera glasses at home. All the seats at Center Stage Theater offer an intimate proximity to the action. Prepare to be surrounded by music and action and get thyself to Center Stage Theater.