The Ensemble for the Romantic Century Presents THE TRIAL OF OSCAR WILDE, 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.
What: The Trial of Oscar Wilde by the Ensemble for the Romantic Century (ERC)
When: Thu 6/19 - Sat 6/21 at 8:00pm (free pre-concert lecture at 7:00pm) + additional matinee Sat 6/21 at 2:00pm (free pre-concert lecture at 1:00pm)
About Ensemble for the Romantic Century (ERC)
Celebrating its 13th season, the Ensemble for the Romantic Century (ERC) transforms the classical music concert experience by fusing fully staged dramas with live chamber and Celebrating its 13th season, the Ensemble for the Romantic Century (ERC) transforms the classical music concert experience by fusing fully staged dramas with live chamber and vocal music. The combination of original scripts - all drawn from historical materials such as memoirs, letters, diaries and literature - with chamber music, brings the past to life with an immediacy that has transported and captivated audiences worldwide.
ERC'S 2014 Season kicked off with rave reviews for Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart at BAM Fisher. Performances in 2013 included the premiere of Tchaikovsky: None but the Lonely Heart in Lenox, Massachusetts, in partnership with Shakespeare & Company. The production received rave reviews and played to sold-out audiences.
To date, ERC has created more than 40 original theatrical concerts including Seduction, Smoke and Music: The Love Story of Chopin and George Sand, featuring actors Jeremy Irons and Sinéad Cusack and American Ballet Theater dancers Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Beloserkovsky; Toscanini: In My Heart too Much of the Absolute coupled with a CUNY seminar featuring author and Toscanini biographer Harvey Sachs; and four writer- centric productions: The Sorrows of Young Werther (Goethe); Tolstoy's Last Days; Herself to Her a Music (Emily Dickinson); and Jules Verne: From the Earth to the Moon. Other productions have centered on subjects such as Marcel Proust, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Dracula, Frankenstein, The Dreyfus Affair, Arthur RubInstein, Erik Satie, Peggy Guggenheim, Anna Akhmatova, Van Gogh, Debussy, Fanny Mendelssohn, Robert and Clara Schumann, Schubert, and Beethoven.
ERC has partnered with and/or performed at The Jewish Museum of New York; the Archivio Fano and the Teatro La Fenice of Venice, Italy; the Festival de Musique de Chambre Montréal; Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Masschusetts; the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA); the French Institute- Alliance Française (FIAF); the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies at Columbia University; the Italian Cultural Institute of New York; the City University of New York (CUNY); the Tuscan Sun Festival in Cortona, Italy; the Festival del Sole in Napa Valley; and New York's Florence Gould Hall and the Eleazar de Carvalho Festival in São Paulo, Brazil.
Since 2007, ERC has been a musicological affiliate of the Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation at the CUNY Graduate Center, where ERC has also established an annual series of seminars - one for each of the Ensemble's programs. ERC also served as music consultant for the Jewish Museum's 2005 exhibition, "The Power of Conversation," and was in residence in 2004 at Williams College in Massachusetts.
Founded in 2001 by pianist Eve Wolf, who also serves as Executive Artistic Director, ERC's artistic collaborators include fellow pianist and Co-Artistic Director Max Barros, Musicologist James Melo, Director of Theatrical Production Donald T. Sanders, Production Designer Vanessa James and Lighting Designer Beverly Emmons. They are complimented by an ongoing roster of musicians and actors who have become major interpreters of the ERC vision.
About James Melo
James Melo (musicologist) has written extensively for scholarly journals and music magazines in Brazil, Uruguay, United States, and Austria, and has been invited to participate as a panel discussant in conferences in Indiana, New York, and Canada. He has written program notes for several concerts at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and for over 70 recordings on the Chesky, Naxos, Paulus, and Musikus labels, among others. He is the New York correspondent for the magazine Sinfónica in Uruguay, reviewer of music iconography for the journal Music in Art, and senior editor at RILM (Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale) at CUNY. In March 2005, he chaired a session in the conference Music and Intellectual History, organized by the Barry Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation (CUNY), and presented a paper on the history of musicological research in Brazil. He received a grant from the Paul Sacher Stiftung in Basel, Switzerland, where he conducted research on the manuscripts of Anton Webern. Mr. Melo is the program annotator for the recording on Villa-Lobos' complete piano music and Camargo Guarnieri's complete piano concertos on Naxos. In 2006, he began collaborating with the Montréal Chamber Music Festival as musicologist and program notes writer.
In March 2008 he chaired a session on music iconography in Brazil and Portugal in the conference Music, Body, and Stage: The Iconography of Music Theater and Opera at CUNY Graduate Center. As the musicologist for the Ensemble for the Romantic Century in New York, Mr. Melo provides historical and musicological support for ERC's productions in addition to organizing and chairing a series of multidisciplinary seminars at CUNY Graduate Center in partnership with the Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation. Mr. Melo's musicological background has enriched the many historically informed scripts he has written for ERC, including Sublime Sorcery: Music and the Supernatural (2002), A Singing Flame: The Soul of Spanish Music (2002), The Sorrows of Young Werther: A Romantic Liederabend (2003), Schubert's Dream (2003), Emily Dickinson: Herself to Her a Music (2004), My Heart, My Serpent: Thus Spoke Zarathustra (2005), Satie, Bohemian from Montmartre: A Cabaret (2006), Chopin: Letters from Majorca (2008), De Profundis: The Trials of Oscar Wilde (2010), and Proust's Court of Love (2011), among others.
About Donald T. Sanders
Donald T. Sanders (Director) has been Director of Theatrical Production for ERC since 2005. He directed Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart at both Shakespeare & Co last Summer and BAM Fisher this past Spring. In 2011 he directed the ERC production of Seduction, Smoke and Music at the Tuscan Sun Festival starring Jeremy Irons and Sinéad Cusack and its reprise at the Napa Valley Festival del Sole in 2012. Other notable ERC productions include: Fanny Mendelssohn: Out of Her Brother's Shadow at New York's Jewish Museum; Toscanini: Nel Mio Cuore Troppo di Assoluto at Venice's Teatro La Fenice Sale Apolline; and Van Gogh's Ear at New York's Florence Gould Hall and the Festival de Musique de Chambre Montréal. He has directed productions at the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater (The American Pig: an Anti-Imperialist Vaudeville, Naked Lunch, 33 Scenes on the Possibility of Human Happiness, Thomas Cole, A Waking Dream, Edith Wharton's Old New York) as well as off-Broadway the plays of Arnold Weinstein, Eric Bentley, Kenneth Koch and the music works of William Russo. He is a founder of New York Art Theatre Institute (NYATI). He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Bristol, England and the Yale School of Drama. Since 1993 he has been Executive Artistic Director of The Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA) where he presents such artists as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Vanessa Redgrave, England's Out of Joint, Complicite and Shakespeare's Globe Theater, and France's Comédie Française. In 2002, Sanders was made a Chevalier dans L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of the Republic of France.
About Michael Halling
Broadway: A Tale of Two Cities (Gaspard); The Pajama Game (Cyrus, u/s Harry Connick Jr.), Roundabout Theatre Company; The Boy From Oz (Standby for Hugh Jackman); In My Life (Nick); The Scarlet Pimpernel. Encores: Bells Are Ringing; NY City Opera's Candide. National Tours: Les Miserables (Enjolras); The Full Monty (Teddy Slaughter); Beauty and the Beast (Beast). Off- Broadway: Giant, The Public Theater; The Streets of New York (Mark Livingstone), Donnybrook (Sean Enright), The Irish Rep; Select Regional: The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Jasper) Repertory Theatre of St. Louis; Pride and Prejudice (Mr. Darcy), Bristol Riverside; Heaven's My Destination (George Brush) Cleveland Playhouse; Crazy For You (Lank) Maltz Jupiter & Cape Playhouse; The Full Monty (Jerry) Stages St. Louis & Ogunquit Playhouse. Cast recordings: Pajama Game, Giant. TV: Believe (Co-star). Upcoming: 1776 (Jefferson) Cape Playhouse; The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Denver Theater Center. B.A. University of Minnesota. Proud member of AEA.