Bernstein opera overly cautious

A standout soloist performance can't disguise the sometimes too painfully correct chorus on a recording of Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti

Composer: Bernstein
Repertoire: Trouble in Tahiti; Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
Artists: Soloists, Munich Radio Orchestra/Schirmer
Rating: 3/5 
Genre: Opera
Label: BR Klassik 403571900300

The music-theatre performer Kim Criswell has made the role of Dinah in Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti her own, and it’s easy to hear why. Her comic timing is perfect in the hilarious number that gives the opera its title – a parody of schmaltzy musicals – but she conveys all Dinah’s brittle despair in the scenes that focus on the breakdown of her marriage, too. Rodney Gilfry is very good as her self-satisfied husband, but they’re not helped by a background chorus of singers who sound too painfully correct and over-careful in their jazz-style scatting. The same adjectives may also be applied to Ulf Schirmer’s conducting.