A unique night at the Aspen Music Fest with Charlie Chaplin and Leonard Bernstein | AspenTimes.com

A unique night at the Aspen Music Fest with Charlie Chaplin and Leonard Bernstein

Charlie Chaplin's "A Dog's Life"

To celebrate the centennial of Leonard Bernstein's birth, the Aspen Music Festival and School is staging the legendary American composer's one-act opera "Trouble in Tahiti" in a unique evening program.

The festival today is pairing a concert performance of the Bernstein opera with a screening of Charlie Chaplin's silent film "A Dog's Life" — also celebrating its 100th anniversary — with a live ensemble performance of Chaplin's score at Harris Concert Hall.

The opera, which premiered in 1952, offers an early critique of suburban dysfunction and focuses on the seemingly happy couple Sam (baritone Mauchael Aiello) and Dinah (mezzo-soproano Zaray Ridriquez). As it opens, the couple has just seen a film, titled "Trouble in Tahiti," and Dinah laments, "What a movie! What a terrible, terrible movie!"

It's an indication of the discontent below the surface in their seemingly placid marriage, explored to comic effect — with the help of a jazz chorus — over the course of the opera.

Aspen Music Festival Vice President Asadour Santourian decided to pair it with an actual movie and craft a different kind of evening at the festival.

"I thought, 'Well, it has nothing to do with Bernstein or the opera, but we should see a movie and maybe we'll have Sam's reaction,'" Santourian said. "He doesn't think it's such a terrible movie."

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The opera will begin, following a pause after the Chaplin screening.

"When I curated the evening I wanted to have something that we could reference later on when Dinah is suffering her meltdown and Sam is wondering what is going on," Santourian said. "It's a depiction of, on the surface, a happy suburban couple. But under the surface, in various layers, is a very unhappy suburban couple."

As the music world celebrates Bernstein's centennial, the Aspen Music Fest has done so with several presentations of his diverse works, including Aspen Chamber Symphony performances of his symphony "The Age of Anxiety" and selections from his Broadway classic "On the Town." On Sunday, the Aspen Festival Orchestra and violinist Midori will perform Bernstein's concerto Serenade after Plato's "Symposium."

atravers@aspentimes.com

IF YOU GO …

What: “What a Movie! Bernstein’s ‘Trouble in Tahiti,’” presented by Aspen Music Festival and School

Where: Harris Concert Hall

When: Thursday, Aug. 2, 8 p.m.

How much: $50

Tickets: Wheeler Opera House and Harris Concert Hall box office; aspenmusicfestival.com

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