Tom Cairns’ cinematic film of Bernstein’s chamber opera features a young and vibrant cast, set in the Fifties. This biting satire on American suburban married life stars Stephanie Novacek as Dinah and Karl Daymond as Sam, facing a serious communication breakdown – he is obsessed with his achievements in work and sport: she seeks escapism via therapy and the magical world of the latest movie release, Trouble in Tahiti. Inspired by jazz and American musical comedy, the score is a path-breaking fusion of lyric art with popular entertainment.
Director: Tom Cairns
Introduction to Trouble in Tahiti.
NOT PARTICULARLY ROMANTIC - Humphrey Burton, Bernstein’s biographer, comments on the composer’s life and the significance of Trouble in Tahiti.
A VERY TESTING PIECE - Conductor Paul Daniel on the performance and background of the opera.
28 page illustrated booklet with biographies in English, French and German plus full libretto.
‘...miniature masterpiece... Tom Cairn’s new film version brilliantly recreates an idealised post-war American suburbia.’
'Scripted as well as composed by Bernstein in the early 1950’s, Trouble In Tahiti is a satirical domestic drama… There are only five soloists: the mezzo-soprano and baritone principals (Dinah and Sam) plus a Greek chorus of Brechtian Andrews Sisters. This last treatment has already been broadcast in the UK and it scooped a prize at the Vienna TV awards. Director Tom Cairns has used the medium with imagination. Recasting the work as a sort of glorified ‘50’s TV programme, he includes echo effects and noises off to enhance the stylisation, unafraid to tweak the plot at the margins. The jazz trio become co-workers or noisy neighbours and clever use is made of archival footage and authentic-looking sets… Stephanie Novacek and Karl Daymond are hard to fault; both have excellent diction. The booklet includes decent notes and a full libretto.'
'Written in the early 1950’s, Leonard Bernstein’s two-hander (with trio mini chorus) about the shattered American dream of young married Sam and Dinah comes up sparkling fresh in this made-for-television production by Tom Cairns. The visuals are stunning - a nostalgia fest for 1950’s interiors fans. With seven short scenes lasting barely 50 minutes, it is an operatic “soap” avant la lettre. Wonderfully observed acting and singing performances by Karl Daymond and Stephanie Novacek in the leads. A gem.'
The Sunday Times
‘…a convincing film of an opera...[Dinah] steals the show with the famous aria “What a Movie!” Karl Daymond is just magnificent as Sam... The whole film makes the pulse race... Uplifting entertainment.’
‘Inspired rather than encumbered by opera's refusal to yield to the mainstream rhythms of MTV…Trouble in Tahiti arrives on film rightly brimming with 1950’s period atmosphere in the candy-coloured household of Sam and Dinah, whose marriage is unravelling amid the sleek but empty convenience of America’s newly minted suburbs. What truly makes the film is director Tom Cairns' ability to create a convincing world of heightened reality - as opposed to the eccentric reality of past opera films… While the film is a template for using the [DVD] medium in ways that effectively balance the message and the art, it also offers a challenge to similar efforts in the future. This film works because the director understands the opera right down to its DNA. He knew exactly what core information had to find its way from stage to screen.’
Philadelphia Inquirer (USA)
Awards & Accolades:
Gramophone Award 2003 - Best DVD
Cannes Classical Award 2004 – Best Opera DVD
Grand Prix de l'Académie Charles Cros 2003
Diapason d’Or de l’année 2003
Choc du Monde de la Musique
10 de Répertoire
2004 Grammy Award nomination – Best Long Form Music Video
Penguin Guide - 3 stars
WINNER - Vienna TV Awards/Accolades, April 2002
The jury citation - ‘We were impressed by the originality and the style using archive footage intercut with the story. Great camera work and imaginative sets.’
CAT NO: OA 0838 D
FORMAT: All Formats
REGIONS: All Regions
PICTURE FORMAT: 16:9
LENGTH: 75 MINS
SOUND: DOLBY SURROUND / LPCM STEREO
SUBTITLES: FR/DE/ES (PAL) ES (NTSC)
NO OF DISCS: 1