WEST SIDE STORY SYMPHONIC DANCES
A Phoenix Dance Theatre / Opera North collaboration.
At a stroke, Bernstein’s West Side Story redefined musical theatre when it opened on Broadway in 1957. It broke new ground in several ways, not least in responding to the newly contemporary issue of gang violence in American cities, and in the way that the storytelling was driven by dance.
Bernstein himself arranged the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story as a work to stand on its own terms, free of the story of the show from which the music is derived. Taking this as her cue, choreographer Aletta Collins creates a dance work which interprets Bernstein’s thrilling, poignant music outside of the narrative of West Side Story. This entirely new piece will explore the experience of young people through themes of group identity and family, conflict and violence.
This is the second major collaboration between Phoenix Dance Theatre and Leeds-based, internationally renowned, Opera North following our hugely successful work together last year on Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. The young American conductor Jonathon Heyward makes his Opera North debut conducting this double-bill of Bernstein’s work.
TROUBLE IN TAHITI
Leonard Bernstein’s one-act opera is an unsparing examination of a marriage falling apart in 1950s suburbia. Sam and Dinah appear to have the perfect life in their ‘little white house’. But their growing failure to connect exposes a mutual feeling that they are trapped in a life that has turned into a lie.
Bernstein’s score is heavily influenced by the syncopated rhythms of jazz and by the distinctive American vernacular of musicals and the movies. Matthew Eberhardt’s production of Trouble in Tahiti is deeply touching, whilst giving full value to the Hollywood pizzazz of Dinah’s showpiece number ‘Island Magic’.