A Streetcar Named Desire

Andre Previn

Performed at the Granada Theatre

Friday, April 24, 2015, 7:30pm
Sunday, April 26, 2015, 2:30pm

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Based on Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize winning play, André Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire reigns as one of the great American operas. The opera tells the story of Blanche DuBois, a fading though still attractive Southern belle whose poise is a persona she presents to shield others (but most of all herself) from her delusions of grandeur. Moving into her sister's cramped apartment, and creating all the wrong kinds of sparks with her crude brother-in-law, the dark truths about Blanche's past begins to emerge, and her world comes apart at the seams in a spiral of violence and madness. André Previn's jazz-inflected score evokes a highly charged New Orleans setting, creating the perfect tension for this operatic drama.
Sung in English with English Supertitles 

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Synopsis

ACT I

After losing both her job as a schoolteacher and her ancestral family home, Blanche DuBois arrives in New Orleans and takes the streetcar named Desire to the home of her younger sister, Stella, who has married Stanley Kowalski and is expecting his baby. Blanche's social condescension wins her the instant dislike of Stanley, an auto-parts supply man of Polish descent. He is aggravated by the intrusion that Blanche's presence makes in their small two-room flat and becomes increasingly confrontational when he learns of the loss of the family estate. Defending herself, Blanche reveals that the mansion was lost due to a foreclosed mortgage, a disclosure that signifies the dire nature of Blanche's financial circumstances. Blanche's heavy drinking, which she attempts to conceal from her sister and brother-in-law, is another sign that all is not well with her.

During a poker game Blanche sets her sights on Harold Mitchell (Mitch), a friend and workmate of Stanley's. A drunken Stanley breaks up the evening and strikes Stella, who is hurried out by Blanche to the safe quarters of the neighbors' flat upstairs. Stanley is remorseful and cries up to Stella to forgive him. Against Blanche's warnings and wishes, Stella succumbs to Stanley's supplications and returns to their shared home.

ACT II


Some weeks later, Stanley casually mentions that a male friend claims to know Blanche from a seedy hotel the friend visits on his trips to Blanche's hometown. She promptly denies the allegation but becomes distressed about whether rumors about her past life are being spread. When Stanley and his wife go out for the evening, Blanche makes a sad and half-hearted attempt to seduce a teenage boy that arrives to collect money for the newspaper.  She later goes out with Mitch on a date and, upon returning, Mitch unburdens his heart to Blanche. She, in turn, tells him of her brief marriage to a young poet who proved to be a homosexual and how her discovery of his infidelity led to his suicide.

ACT III


A month later, a party is held to celebrate Blanche's birthday. Stanley ruins the occasion when he openly reveals the details he has learned about Blanche's unsavory past: that after losing the family mansion, Blanche moved into a seedy motel from which she was evicted due to her promiscuous lifestyle. She was then fired from her job as a schoolteacher because of an affair she had with a teenage student. Stanley hands Blanche a one-way ticket back home and tells her that Mitch has been made aware of the news and will not be returning to see her again.

Blanche is left alone in their flat. A drunken Mitch arrives and bitterly reproaches Blanche. Overburdened by the events, Blanche's mind starts to unhinge, as a Mexican Woman appears selling flowers for the dead.  Blanche's spiral towards insanity is completed when Stanley returns home and, as a last act of cruel retribution, violently rapes her.

Stella can't bring herself to believe her sister's accusations against Stanley. Blanche prepares to leave the house believing she is going to visit an old admirer when, in fact, Stella has committed her to an asylum. Stella is packing Blanche's clothes when the Doctor and a Nurse arrives. Alone in the world again, Blanche now depends-in a new, not promiscuous way-on "the kindness of strangers."