On this day in classical music: Leonard Bernstein’s chamber opera “Trouble in Tahiti” was given its premiere in 1952. This early work spotlighted a day in the lives of Sam and Dinah, a desperately unhappy couple who have trouble communicating. Three singers — Bernstein referred to them as “a Greek chorus born of the radio commercial” — comments on the idyllic nature of suburban middle-class life in the 1950s. In 1983, Bernstein used “Trouble in Tahiti” as the middle portion of his opera “A Quiet Place.” Soprano Dawn Upshaw performs “What a Movie!” with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. Michael Tilson Thomas conducts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGc0dwQWm74
On this day in the musical theatre: The Ervin Drake/Budd Schulberg musical “What Makes Sammy Run” closed on Broadway in 1964. Based on the 1941 novel by Schulberg, the musical chronicled the rise and fall of a young Jewish boy who escaped a life of poverty by rising through the ranks of the motion picture industry. Steve Lawrence starred as Sammy in a production that ran 540 performances.
Musical musings: A trouble-ridden, long-running flop, complete with front page “star” troubles. Steve Lawrence added lines at will, publicly “bad-mouthed” the show, and called in sick for 32 performances — including the big Christmas/New Year’s holiday week! On his next excursion through stormy Broadway seas, Lawrence made sure to run things himself. “Golden Rainbow” (1968) it was called, from the 1957 comedy “A Hole In the Head.” A real stinker. – From Opening Nights on Broadway by Steven Suskin.