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Music Text

Libretto by Stephen Wadsworth; Incorporating 'Trouble in Tahiti'. (Words and music by Leonard Bernstein) Orchestration by Leonard Bernstein with the assistance of Sid Ramin and Irwin Kostal


Major roles: S,M,T,Bar,2BBar;
minor roles: 2M,2T,Bar,B,jazz trio (S or M,hT,hBar); chorus (in pit)
3susp.cym/large susp.cym/cyms/finger cyms/bongo dr/2tom-t/tam-t/tamb/
4pitched dr/2tgl//2wdbl/5tpl.bl/wind chimes/steel pipe/rasp/2sandpape
r blocks-elec.bass-pft(=synth)-harp-strings

Abbreviations (PDF)


Boosey & Hawkes, Sole Agent

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

World premiere complete
Teatro Alla Scala, Milan
Stephen Wadsworth, director
Conductor: John Mauceri

World Premiere
Houston, TX
Mark Schifter, director
Conductor: John DeMain
Company: Houston Grand Opera


BILL Baritone
SUSIE Mezzo-Soprano
DOC Bass
MRS. DOC Mezzo-Soprano
DEDE Soprano
JUNIOR Baritone
OLD SAM Baritone
DINAH Mezzo-Soprano
YOUNG SAM Baritone
Jazz Trio Soprano (or Mezzo), High Tenor, High Baritone
Time and Place

early 1980s, suburban America


Dede, Junior, François and friends gather at Dinah's funeral. Sam, Dinah’s widowed husband, is estranged from his family and stands isolated in a corner. During the funeral ceremony, Sam and Junior come to blows. The coffin lid is knocked shut with a crash; Junior, left alone, becomes aware of his disarray and tenderly runs his hand across his mother's coffin. At home later that evening, Sam is alone; reading Dinah’s old diaries evokes a memory of thirty years ago. Sam’s reverie is interrupted when Dede comes shyly to visit him. Next door in Junior’s room, François confronts Junior with his behavior at the funeral parlor. Father and daughter embrace; Junior collapses in François' arms. Dede and François meet in the hallway, where François breaks down, overcome by the strain of the day. The next morning, Dede and Junior play games remembered from childhood. François joins them, and then Sam appears, deciding to welcome François into the family. Sam reads aloud from Dinah’s diary, and in another emotional disagreement Junior hurls Dinah's diary into the air. With the pages of Dinah's diary scattered about on the ground, they recognize one by one that they can learn to communicate and reach out to one another.


Poetic, Romantic


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