Trouble’s brewing in Opera

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To Trouble in Tahiti

Leonard Bernstein’s famous one-act opera, Trouble in Tahiti hits the Fugard Theatre stage this week.

The events of a typical day in the life of an unhappily married couple desperately trying to keep up appearances spells trouble waiting to unfold.

Set in American suburbia in the early 1950s, this opera brings classical and popular influences together to present an unconventional opera. Bernstein’s piece draws on a wide range of musical styles, ranging from heartfelt operatic arias to toe-tapping numbers inspired by jazz singers which narrate the piece in the style of ’50s advertising jingles.

Performed by the Cape Town Opera, the production, performed with reduced orchestration for seven players, was created for Cape Town Opera’s National Tour, and has already delighted audiences from De Aar to Rustenburg.

Directed by Matthew Wild and designed by Tina Driedijk, it stars CTO staff soloist Violina Anguelov alongside the young stars of CTO’s Voice of the Nation Studio.

Anguelov, who stars as Dinah, has been part of CTO for the past two years and is notable for her role as Rosina in Barber of Seville and Octavia in Der Rosenkavalier.

“I’ve done quite a lot from Monteverdi to 21st-century opera. Anything I do I fall in love with and make it my own,” says Bulgarian Anguelov, a resident of SA for the past 20 years.

Anguelov says it’s her love of the particular music and text that speaks to her most: “It’s amazingly well put forward, not one note or vocal arrangement is out.”

The story of the sadness at the heart of the couple’s loveless marriage is laid bare in a series of scenes.

“It deals with human emotions and speaks to everyone. We had to find ourselves as a married couple. There are magical musical moments along with a deep understanding of human emotions.”

The opera will be preceded by a 50-minute musical lecture called The Musical Marriages of Leonard Bernstein, with performances of favourite Bernstein songs about love and marriage from other works, and an exploration of the relationship between his music and his famously complicated personal life.

• Performances are at the Fugard Theatre tomorrow, Friday and Saturday at 7.30pm. Tickets: R90 at Computicket.

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