Set in 1950s suburbia, Trouble in Tahiti is about a married couple struggling to find happiness in their discontent. Dinah and Sam go from home to office, gym, therapist, and the movies, all while yearning for connection, and all backed up by a vocal jazz trio.

The Seven Deadly Sins tells of a woman on a journey across the U.S. to earn enough money to buy a home, resisting sin in every city she visits. Weill’s 1933 “ballet chanté” divides heroine Anna into two halves of the same woman: a singer and a dancer. Kanopy Dance joins us for this enthralling work.

Don’t miss this double-bill of longing and connection by two extraordinary composers.

Friday, February 3 at 8 pm
Sunday, February 5 at 2:30 pm
Overture Hall
Sung in English with projected text

approx. run time: 2 hours, with 1 intermission

Health and Safety Information

Trouble in Tahiti

by Leonard Bernstein

Premiered 12 June 1952
Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

Madison Opera Premiere

The Seven Deadly Sins

by Kurt Weill
libretto by Bertolt Brecht

Premiered 7 June 1933
Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris 

Madison Opera Premiere

A smiling jazz Trio sings of perfect life in suburbia.

Sam and Dinah argue over breakfast. Dinah accuses Sam of having an affair with his secretary, which he denies. She reminds Sam that their son Junior’s play is that afternoon, but Sam insists that his handball tournament at the gym is more important. They continue to argue until Sam leaves for the office.

At work, Sam deftly handles business by telephone and promises to lend money to a friend. The Trio extols Sam’s virtues.

In her analyst’s office, Dinah recalls her dream of an untended garden, choked with weeds. In the dream, she hears a voice calling to her, describing a beautiful garden, a place of love and harmony.  Meanwhile, at Sam’s office, he questions his secretary about his behavior towards her.

Sam and Dinah accidentally run into each other on the street. Both invent excuses to avoid having lunch together. Alone, they each reflect on the painful course their relationship has taken, and yearn for their lost happiness.

The Trio sings of lovely life in suburbia.

At the gym, Sam has just won the handball tournament. He sings triumphantly about the nature of men – how some try to rise to the top but will never win; while others, like him, are born winners and will always succeed.

Dinah has spent the afternoon at the cinema watching a South Sea romance called “Trouble in Tahiti.” At first she dismisses it as sentimental drivel. But as she recounts the story and its theme song “Island Magic,” she gets caught up in its escapist fantasy, backed by the Trio. Suddenly self-conscious, she stops herself, and prepares dinner.

On his way home, Sam sings of another law of men: that even the winner must pay for what he gets.

The Trio sings of evenings of domestic bliss. Sam and Dinah try to talk about their relationship, but their effort quickly peters out. Neither of them had gone to their son’s play. Sam suggests they go to the movies, to see a new film about Tahiti; Dinah consents. As they leave, they express a longing to reconnect with each other, but for now they settle for the “bought-and-paid-for magic” of the silver screen. The Trio makes its final ironic comment, echoing the movie’s “Island Magic” theme song.

Introduction: Anna I sets out the plot, explaining the relationship between her and Anna II (they are actually one person) and their quest to travel and make enough money for their family back in Louisiana to build a little house.

Sloth: Anna’s parents note that she has always been lazy. The family says a prayer that God will keep Anna on the path that leads to prosperity and happiness.

Pride: Anna I and Anna II are in Memphis and find a job as a cabaret dancer. Anna II tries to turn it into art, to the displeasure of the paying customers. Anna I scolds her for her pride and reminds her that she must do what is demanded of her.

Anger: The Annas are now in Los Angeles, and things are going quite well until Anna II witnesses acts of cruelty and rebels against injustice. Anna I reminds her that such anger will make her unemployable, so she must set it aside.

Gluttony: The family has received a letter from the Annas in Philadelphia. They are making good money, but Anna II’s contract specifies that she may not gain any weight. They recall that Anna II loves to eat, but trust her to remember that a contract is a contract.

Lust: In Boston, the Annas have found a wealthy lover, but Anna II loves another man, who is poor. Anna I points out that the rich lover will not tolerate divided loyalty. Anna II reluctantly gives in.

Greed: The family learns that Anna is in Baltimore. Men are committing suicide over her, which will increase her earning power, but they fear she will get too greedy. They hope she will not make herself too unpopular to earn money.

Envy: In San Francisco, Anna II is worn out and envious of those who do not have to work hard. Anna I preaches of the need to renounce pleasure and promises a reward to come. The family seconds her, saying that strict self-control is the path to glory.

Finale: The Annas return to Louisiana after seven years. The house is complete.


Rehanna Thelwell
Dinah / Anna I

Madison Opera Debut: Opera in the Park 2021

Carmen, Carmen (Washington National Opera); Ruby / Sinner Woman, Fire Shut Up in My Bones (Lyric Opera of Chicago); Jocasta, Oedipus Rex (Opera Philadelphia); Aunt Lou, Highway 1, U.S.A (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis)
Upcoming: Girlfriend 3 / Congregant 3, Blue (Dutch National Opera) 

Kenney, Chris
Chris Kenney

Madison Opera Debut

Recently: Chester, Fire Shut Up In My Bones (Metropolitan Opera; Lyric Opera of Chicago); Figaro, The Barber of Seville (Cincinnati Opera)

McDonald, Conor
Conor McDonald
Jazz Baritone / Brother

Madison Opera Debut

Tobias Ragg, Sweeney Todd (Wolf Trap Opera); JJ, The Halloween Tree (American Lyric Theater); Marullo, Rigoletto (Austin Opera)

Kanopy_6279_F copy 3
Kanopy Dance
Anna II

Previously with MO: Acis and Galatea, Florencia en el Amazonas

John DeMain

Madison Opera Debut: The Magic Flute (1995)
Recently at MO: Orpheus in the Underworld, She Loves Me, Digital Opera in the Park 2020, Fellow Travelers, La Traviata, Rusalka

Blue (Glimmerglass Festival); Candide (Gran Teatre de Liceu); Porgy and Bess (Seattle Opera); Lost in the Stars (Washington National Opera)

Kristine McIntyre Headshot
Kristine McIntyre
Stage Director

Madison Opera Debut: Così fan tutte (2009)
Recently at MO: Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci; Florencia en el Amazonas; The Tales of Hoffmann; Dead Man Walking

Flight (Dallas Opera, Utah Opera); UNKNOWN (UrbanArias); Sweeney Todd, La Voix Humaine, Wozzeck (Des Moines Metro Opera); Semele (Pittsburgh Opera)
Upcoming: A Thousand Acres (Des Moines Metro Opera); Rusalka (Pittsburgh Opera); Don Giovanni (Atlanta Opera)


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