Bernstein Double Bill

Sat 16 Oct - Sat 20 Nov

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. This new dance work, choreographed by Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director Dane Hurst, interprets Bernstein’s thrilling, poignant music outside of the narrative of West Side Story, exploring 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 back in 2019 on Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Principal Guest Conductor Antony Hermus conducts both productions in the Bernstein Double Bill.


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’.


Tickets will go on sale on Opera North’s website at the end of June.