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A more revealing, soul-searching expression of the life of Astor Piazzolla-the father of Nuevo Tango-is at the heart of a revamped production of "That's Not Tango - Astor Piazzolla, A Life In Music," returning for an extended run at New York's SubCulture on June 8, 9 & 10th and for multiple performances in July. The director is Stephen Wadsworth, named one of the most influential stage directors of the 21st century by American Theatre.

Conceived by Lesley Karsten and written by Karsten and Wadsworth, the team have re-adapted their 2016 tribute to plumb more intimate details of the musician's life, examining his doubts, struggles and regrets, and how they inspired and sometimes contradicted his celebrated career.

The staged production has a unique gender-bending premise - the part of Piazzolla is played by a woman. As Piazzolla, Lesley Karsten delivers a compelling dramatic narrative that offers a deeper understanding of Piazzolla's life, from his rough childhood in New York to the fame he achieved for revolutionizing the traditional tango. The show unfolds through an interplay between storytelling and virtuoso performances of Piazzolla's music by JP Jofre, (bandoneon), Brandt Fredriksen (piano) and Nick Danielson (violin).

"We've moved from a more straightforward narrative of the facts of his life into an exploration of the inner workings of the man," says Karsten. "The premise is simple. He's dead, hates it and returns because he has unfinished business ... with himself. He has regrets, struggles with isolation, memories of love lost. He gave what he had to give -- and the music is astonishing - but he needs to set the record straight. There's a price to be paid for immortality."

Karsten and Wadsworth take us on an intimate journey into Piazzolla's past, from his childhood in New York, years that shaped the man he would become, to his death at 71 in Buenos Aires. Growing up on the Lower East Side, he was strongly influenced by the music he was surrounded by. Along with exposure to Bach, Stravinsky and Bartok, he heard klezmer from Jewish weddings, jazz from nearby clubs and tango­-an idiom he initially rejected-from the scratchy records his father played.

A chance encounter with Artur Rubenstein when Piazzolla was 16 further inspired him to pursue music; he was soon taken under the wings of classical composer Alberto Ginastera and tango great Aníbal Troilo, and later went on to study with the legendary Nadia Boulanger. Through her, the composer found his true calling.

From this gumbo of life experiences emerged a music that's intensely personal, yet universal and as beloved in Tokyo, Berlin and New York as it is In Buenos Aires. Since his death in 1992, Piazzolla's reputation has only grown with jazz giants like Gary Burton and Al di Meola and

classical superstars like Yo Yo Ma, Emmanuel Ax and Daniel Barenboim including his works in their repertoires. His influence continues to be felt in the works of other significant composers, such as Osvaldo Golijov. As tango reaches new heights in popularity, Astor Piazzolla is taking his rightful place as a towering figure in all 20th-century music.

"I hope people develop a personal relationship with the music and understand what it meant to him," Karsten says. "I want audiences to experience the man behind its urgency and power."

Karsten's creative journey began when she was asked to read some Latin American poetry while a violinist performed Piazzolla in Fairfield, Connecticut. Rather willfully, Karsten admits, she rejected the poetry and adapted elements of Piazzolla's biography instead. The piece, which was part of a chamber music series, had lines out the door and around the corner.

"Lesley's work as Piazzolla moves quickly beyond gender into the androgyny of the soul," says Wadsworth. "A woman in a persona so conventionally masculine, and whose music has a bald assertiveness and violence many associate with maleness, is very tango. Piazzolla was fascinated by the quick-change animus-anima exchanges between men and women dancing tango."

JP Jofre is an award-winning bandoneon player and composer considered to be the premiere bandoneónista of the modern age. He has been repeatedly highlighted by the New York Times and praised as one of today's leading artists by Great Performers at Lincoln Center. His music has been recorded by Grammy winner Paquito D' Rivera, choreographed and performed by Herman Cornejo (Principal Dancer of the American Ballet Theatre). Jofre has taken his form of contemporary tango to some of the most important venues around the world, including San Antonio Symphony, San Diego Symphony, and Argentina's National Symphony Orchestra.

Award-winning pianist Brent Fredriksen is the Music Director of the show. He is a founding member of New York's Ensemble Respiro. He has held debut recitals at Weill Recital Hall, Gasteig Cultural Center, and Vafopoulio Hall, and has performed with numerous renowned ensembles. In 2003, he was selected by the U.S. and China Foundation to perform recitals and concerts throughout China. He has several recordings, and has also recorded solo piano music for the soundtrack of the award-winning documentary film, Sonia, and chamber music composed by Nickitas Demos for the film A Free Bird. Most recently he recorded piano for New Music from Greek and Greek-American Composers for Albany Records.

Among his many collaborations, violinist Nick Danielson has performed and recorded at venues such as Jazz at Lincoln Center with world renowned tango and contemporary Argentinian ensembles and musicians such as Paquito D'Rivera, Pablo Ziegler, and Wynton Marsalis. He has performed on Grammy and Latin Grammy-winning recordings in both genres and has recorded two solo albums. He is the Assistant Concertmaster of the New York City Ballet Orchestra.

Stephen Wadsworth is a veteran of Broadway, the West End and opera companies throughout Europe and the US, including the Met. He has directed such wildly diverse playwrights such as: Terrence McNally, Anna Deavere Smith, Beth Henley, Ken Ludwig, and composers Peter

Lieberson and Daron Hagen. Working with Leonard Bernstein, he wrote the Grammy-nominated opera A Quiet Place. He was a Playwriting Fellow for Sundance at the Ucross Foundation and the McCarter Theatre, and currently teaches directing at Juilliard.

Story and Musical Consultants include: Kip Hanrahan, Piazzolla's longtime associate and the producer of his seminal CDs Tango Zero Hour and La Camorra, and Fernando Gonzalez music critic, writer and translator of Natalio Gorin's "Astor Piazzolla: A Memoir."


June 8 @ 7pm

June 9 @ 2pm and 7pm

June 10 @ 3pm

July 18, July 19, 25, July 26 @7pm

Ticket: $35

$15 cash-only rush ticket one hour before the show (current student or educator ID required).

Location: SubCulture, 45 Bleecker Street, New York City.

Tickets: Available at


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