Trouble in Tahiti & Gallantry
By Leonard Bernstein & Douglas Moore
Opera Santa Barbara presents Trouble in Tahiti, Leonard Bernstein’s witty, haunting take on the supposed bliss of the American suburbs paired with Douglas Moore’s zany soap opera-within-an-opera Gallantry. The production will feature OSB’s talented Chrisman Studio Artists. “Our audiences has gotten to know this fantastic group of singers in supporting roles and in many community concerts – this is our chance to feature them in leading roles,” says Artistic and General Director Kostis Protopapas. “In addition, we are excited to honor the creative legacy of Leonard Bernstein. The Bernstein at 100 centennial is the perfect opportunity to re-introduce our community to Trouble in Tahiti in a fantastic new production conceived and staged by Alison Moritz.”
Trouble in Tahiti tells the story of Dinah and Sam, a married couple in 1950s suburbia trying to communicate as they wrestle with their growing alienation from each other. Sam retreats to the hyper-masculine, win-or-lose worlds of the office and the gym, while Dinah finds excitement and solace in the movies. All the while, an upbeat jazz trio that Bernstein referred to as “A Greek chorus born of the radio commercial” sings jingles espousing the bliss and convenience of the modern age. Trouble in Tahiti will be paired with Douglas Moore’s Gallantry. Audiences who know Moore through his opera The Ballad of Baby Doe may be surprised to experience this hilarious sendup of the American soap opera – complete with commercial interruptions. Gallantry is a classic backstage/onstage farce that takes place during the filming of a hospital-themed television melodrama.
This production is sponsored by the Mosher Foundation.
Stage Director Alison Moritz’s recent productions have been lauded as “about as gorgeous and accessible as any opera anywhere” (The Commercial Appeal), and her work has been praised for its “incredible economy of resources, lean production design, and eye for jest and banter” by The Orlando Examiner.
A “rising young star on the contemporary American opera scene” (89.5 Tulsa), Ms. Moritz’s diverse projects for 2017-2018 include the world premiere of Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek’s newest opera Proving Up (Washington National Opera, AOI), as well as new productions of Orpheus in the Underworld (New Orleans Opera), Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Madison Opera), Trouble in Tahiti (Opera Santa Barbara), and a genre-bending triple bill of rarities for Bard Conservatory (Pulcinella, Full Moon in March, and Svadba). This season, Ms. Moritz also directs a new staging of Madama Butterfly (Syracuse Opera), collaborates with IlluminArts to profile artist Ana Mendieta, joins the Santa Fe Opera directing staff, and continues ongoing collaborations with the Resonant Bodies Festival and The Knights.
Alison’s exciting 2016-2017 season included several innovative productions of American operas: The Manchurian Candidate (Austin Opera), Candide (Orlando Philharmonic), The Tender Land (Crane School of Music), Our Town (Townsend Opera, Fresno Grand Opera), Hydrogen Jukebox (Tri-Cities Opera), Cabildo, and Gallantry (Central City Opera). Recently, the Austin Chronicle named Alison’s production of The Manchurian Candidate the #1 Classical Music/Dance event of 2016, and the production received seven Austin Critic’s Award Nominations and four wins (including “Best Opera Production”).
Previously, Alison served as the Resident Assistant Director at both the Minnesota Opera and The Atlanta Opera. Her professional credits include engagements with Seattle Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Wolf Trap Opera, Central City Opera, Opera Memphis, and Chautauqua Opera. As a teacher and guest director, Alison has taught at Eastman School of Music, Maryland Opera Studio, Crane School of Music, and for Steven Blier and Caramoor’s Vocal Rising Stars program.
Alison continues both her acting training and administrative interests and has worked and trained with companies such as the SITI Company of New York City, OPERA America, Geva Theatre Center, Third Rail Projects, Nautilus Music Theater, and Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. She holds a B.A. in Music and Art History from Washington University in St. Louis and an M.M. from Eastman School of Music, and was the recipient of the 2015-2016 recipient of the SDCF/Kurt Weill Foundation Fellowship. Alison is based in New York City and St. Louis, Missouri.
Kyle Naig began his association with Opera Santa Barbara as a 2016 Studio Artist, working on The Elixir of Love and Suor Angelica/Gianni Schicchi. He returned to the company as rehearsal pianist and assistant conductor, most recently for Manon this past November. Recent performances include Laura Kaminsky’s As One with Des Moines Metro Opera, Porgy and Bess with the Glimmerglass Festival, and Tosca with Intermountain Opera Bozeman. He will return to Intermountain for Falstaff in May. This spring, Kyle will join Opera Memphis for the Midtown Opera Festival and this summer he will return to Glimmerglass. Kyle was a 2016-2017 Resident Artist with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and he was recently named a 2018-1019 Houston Grand Opera Studio Artist.
Dinah / Trouble in Tahiti
Javotte / Manon
Chrisman Studio Artist
Sam / Trouble in Tahiti
Fiorello / Il barbiere di Siviglia
Guard / Manon
Crébillon / La rondine
Chrisman Studio Artist
Soprano Elle Valera is a recent alumna of Opera Santa Barbara's Chrisman Studio Artist Program. As part of the program, she sang Berta in The Barber of Seville and Poussette in Manon; she also covered the title role in Manon and both Donna Anna and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni for the company. She is a recent L.A. District Winner and Western Region Finalist for the Metropolitan Council Auditions. She was a 2017 fellowship student at the Aspen Music Festival, where she covered the roles of Feu, Princesse, and Le Rossignol in Ravel's L’Enfant et les Sortilèges. In previous years, she was an Apprentice Artist with Central City Opera, where she performed the roles of Madame Herz in The Impresario and Sarah in The Ballad of Baby Doe, taking home Central City’s McGlone Guild Award for outstanding performance. Elle attended UCLA's Herb Alpert School of Music on a full scholarship and received her master’s degree in music in 2014. While at UCLA, she sang Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and the title role in Il Segreto di Susanna. Ms. Valera holds a bachelor of music degree from the University of California, Irvine, and is the recipient of several awards, including the 2016 Pasadena Opera Guild Young Artist Award and an Encouragement Award from the Los Angeles Metropolitan Council Auditions in 2014. Beyond opera, Elle is a plus-size model represented by Bicoastal Management and an Instagram influencer and blogger, promoting body positivity and diversity.
A native of Rome, Pennsylvania, tenor Jonathan Walker-VanKuren holds a master’s degree from Michigan State University and a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, both in vocal performance. While at MSU, Mr. Walker-VanKuren received the 2016-17 Mackey Scholar of Vocal Music Endowment, which is awarded to one exceptional vocal graduate student each school year. His operatic performances include appearances as Martin in The Tender Land, Leon in Signor Deluso, Reverend Eager in A Room With a View, and, most recently, Basilio in Le nozze di Figaro. Mr. Walker-VanKuren made his Beethoven 9 debut with the Livingston Symphony Orchestra as the tenor soloist. He recently covered the roles of Des Grieux in Manon and Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville for Opera Santa Barbara.