ERC to Present THE TRIAL OF OSCAR WILDE at Symphony Space, 6/19-21
Fresh off its recent Tchaikovsky production at BAM Fisher, the Ensemble of the Romantic Century (ERC) presents another fully staged theatrical concert interweaving drama and music about one of the most famous trials of the 19th century. Delivered by a top-caliber cast in an intimate setting, The Trial of Oscar Wilde focuses on the tragic shackling, public scrutiny, and subsequent imprisonment of the homosexual playwright/writer Oscar Wilde (1854-1900). A script based on Wilde's correspondence, plays, and short stories (performed by Broadway's Michael Halling as Oscar Wilde and esteemed Robert Ian Mackenzie as Lord Queensbury) provides a dramatic backdrop for chamber music by French and English composers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries including Chausson's masterful Concerto for violin, piano and string quartet, and works by Satie, Elgar, Fauré and Franck in performances by the dynamic Amphion String Quartet, violinist Susie Park, pianist Max Barros and a romping barbershop quartet.
"It's no surprise that the trials of Oscar Wilde continue to fascinate 100 years after his death," says James Melo, ERC's musicologist and writer of The Trial of Oscar Wilde. Despite being one of England's most beloved writers, his personal life intruded mercilessly on society's appreciation of his genius. "Audiences will be enchanted! We're thrilled to be sharing Wilde's brilliant wit, biting humor and harrowing story."
Regarded as one of history's greatest writers, Wilde is best known for the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray and the play The Importance of Being Earnest, as well as for his rich and dramatic portrayals of the human condition that continue to inspire millions around the world. Wilde's career peaked during the prosperous Victorian Era of the late 19th century at a time when homosexuality was a criminal offense and serious societal taboo in Britain. The evidence of Wilde's homosexuality quickly resulted in his arrest on charges of "gross indecency" and consequent two-year imprisonment and forced labor. Humiliated, degraded, exiled from society, Wilde became a thoroughly different person after his imprisonment.
The Trial of Oscar Wilde centers on the writer's prison ordeal and the two years that he spent in exile in Paris after being freed from the prison of Reading. The concert draws on passages from his literary works, letters to his lover Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas as well as transcript excerpts from the trials. "All trials are trials for one's life, just as all sentences are sentences of death...but Nature...will make me whole again." (Oscar Wilde)
ERC has become one of New York's most innovative ensembles known for offering a captivating new way to experience history. Described by BroadwayWorld.com as "heightened metaphor[s] to remind us that there are some things that can't be said in words," ERC productions find insightful ways and fresh perspectives on controversial subject matters. By connecting great music to the cultural events, politics and literature of earlier eras, ERC brings to life artistic luminaries from Van Gogh, Satie, Tolstoy and Dickinson to Sigmund Freud, Jules Verne, Oscar Wilde and Fanny Mendelssohn.