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ABT Dancer Daniel Mantei Performs/Choreographs "Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart" at BAM

by April Thibeault
February 4, 2014
Brooklyn Academy of Music
30 Lafayette Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(718) 636-4111
Celebrating its 13th season, the Ensemble of the Romantic Century (ERC) presents "Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart" at The Fishman Space in the new BAM Fisher. A fully staged theatrical concert blending striking music, powerful language and biography, "Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart" delves into the unconventional 16-year long relationship between one of the great composers of the 19th century and his patroness, Madame von Meck. Written by Eve Wolf and directed by Donald T. Sanders, this evening-length production seamlessly interweaves a dramatic script performed by actor Simon Fortin (Tchaikovsky) and actress Ariel Bock (Madame von Meck) of Shakespeare & Company with live chamber and vocal music performed by violinist Rachel Lee Priday, cellist Adrian Daurov, pianist Eve Wolf and tenor Blake Friedman. Featuring some of Tchaikovsky's epic pieces including Piano Trio in A Minor, "Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart" represents some of the composer's balletic works through dance both choreographed and performed by American Ballet Theatre dancer Daniel Mantei.

Known for 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. With the advent of the organization's 43rd production "Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart", ERC continues to transform the classical music concert experience. "To me Tchaikovsky is the epitome of passion in music," explains Eve Wolf, founder and executive artistic director of ERC and writer/pianist of "Tchaikovsky: None but the Lonely Heart". "With the actors and musicians on stage at the same time, the chemistry is visceral. I don't want to give the plot away, but even while I am playing the piano during the performance I am drawn into this compelling story and keep my handkerchief nearby."

Described as "an extraordinary and moving way to experience Tchaikovsky's music"(Albany Times Union),"Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart" draws from historical material including letters, diaries, memoirs, newspaper articles, poetry and literature, to create an intricate counterpoint to the musical program. In a puzzling relationship conducted exclusively through 1,200 letters (the two never met), Tchaikovsky and his patroness, Nadezhda von Meck (a wealthy Russian widow), were united by a mutual admiration in which they both found refuge.

By extracting Tchaikovsky's own words from these letters, ERC's production illustrates the composer's doubts about his music, his torment over the fear of exposure of his homosexuality, and his unquestioning love for his patroness. Tchaikovsky found in von Meck an "invisible angel". Her financial support helped the composer create some of his most important and enduring music.

This performance is dedicated to the support of the gay community. By celebrating one of Russia's well-known public figures and honoring this unique relationship, ERC plays a role in the discussion of homosexuality ignited by Russia's recent legislation banning "gay propaganda".

Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart

Premiered: 2013 in Lenox, MA, in partnership with Shakespeare & Company Presenter: The Ensemble for the Romantic Century

Writer: Eve Wolf

Director: Donald T. Sanders

Set & Costumer Designer: Vanessa James

Lighting Designer: Beverly Emmons

Dance Choreographer: Daniel Mantei

Performers: Ariel Bock (actress), Adrian Daurov (cello), Simon Fortin (actor), Blake Friedman (tenor), Daniel Mantei (dancer/choreographer), Rachel Lee Priday (violin), and Eve Wolf (piano)

What: Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart by the Ensemble for the Romantic Century (ERC)

When: Wed 3/5 – Sat 3/8 at 7:30pm, Sat 3/8 at 2:00pm, Sun 3/9 at 3:00pm

Where: BAM Fisher, Fishman Space, 321 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, NY, Train: 2/3/4/5/Q/B to Atlantic Ave; D/N/R to Pacific Ave; G to Fulton; C to Lafayette Ave

Tickets: $70 and Up. To purchase, contact BAM at 718.636.4100 or visit BAM.org.

About Ensemble for the Romantic Century (ERC)

Celebrating its thirteenth 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 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 New York Season begins with Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart, to be presented early in March at BAM Fisher. This will be followed by The Trial of Oscar Wilde at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space in June. 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, Massachusetts; 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 complemented by an ongoing roster of musicians and actors who have become major interpreters of the ERC vision.

About Eve Wolf

Playwright/pianist Eve Wolf founded Ensemble for the Romantic Century in 2001 with the mission of creating an innovative and dramatic concert format in which the emotions revealed in memoirs, letters, diaries, and literature are dramatically interwoven with music, thus bringing to life the sensations and passions of a bygone era. For the past thirteen seasons, Ms. Wolf has written scripts for more than twenty-five of ERC's theatrical concerts and has performed in most of the ensemble's forty-plus original productions.

Some highlights include Wolf's scripts for Van Gogh's Ear at the Festival de Musique de Chambre de Montréal; Fanny Mendelssohn: Out of her Brother's Shadow commissioned by the Jewish Museum of New York; and The Dreyfus Affair and Peggy Guggenheim Stripped Bare by her Bachelors. In 2009 she performed before a sold -out audience at the Sale Apollinee of the Teatro La Fenice in Venice in the Italian production of her script, Toscanini: Nel mio cuore troppo di assoluto. During the 2010-11 season, Wolf was the featured soloist in the theatrical concert Beethoven Love Elegies, for which she wrote the script. She also wrote the scripts of Jekyll & Hyde (2013), in which she was a featured soloist, and Frankenstein: Every Woman's Nightmare (2013).

Praised for her compelling performances, Wolf has appeared in Europe and the United States as a chamber musician and soloist. She received a BA in Art History from Columbia University and an MA in Piano Performance from New York University. She teaches at The Curtis Institute of Music and Columbia University-Teachers College and is a professional mentor at The Juilliard School. Wolf's teachers and mentors included Seymour Bernstein, Richard Goode, Peter Serkin, and Paul Badura-Skoda. She has taught her seminar "Confronting Memory: Memory Techniques for Musicians" in the United States and abroad.

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 Shakespeare & Co last summer. 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 Simon Fortin

Son and grandson of actors, Simon Fortin trained at the Conservatoire d'Art Dramatique du Québec, then in England, at Drama Studio London. He has acted and sung in nearly eighty theatre productions in Canada, England and The United States. For Ensemble for the Romantic Century, he has played among others, Vincent Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Marcel Proust and Jules Verne; most recently he was Paul Verlaine in Cruel Beauty and Dr. Jekyll as well as Mr. Hyde in Jekyll & Hyde. Recent film and TV work include: A Very Serious Person, Sex & the City, René Lévesque II (CBC). Over the years he has performed his cabaret recitals, Lost and Found in Translation, Of Frogs and Princes and Surtout Reggiani in various cities and venues. He is the author of many plays, television shows and translations. Recent theatre roles include Tateh in Ragtime, Bernard in Boeing Boeing, Norman in Alan Ayckbourn's Table Manners, Emile DeBecque in South Pacific and Albin in La Cage aux Folles. In 2005 he received a Masters of Arts in Shakespeare Studies from New York University. A doctoral candidate at CUNY Graduate Center, he is currently writing his dissertation on the Craft of Dying in Early Modern Drama. He teaches Classical literature at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He is a member of Actors' Equity.

About Ariel Bock

Ariel has worked extensively with the Ensemble for the Romantic Century, playing Fanny Mendelssohn, Sonia Tolstoy, Anna Akhmatova, among others. A longtime member of Shakespeare & Company, in Lenox, Massachusetts, Ariel has served as Artistic Associate and Casting Director. Her credits at Shakespeare & Company include Goneril in King Lear, Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, Elizabeth in Richard III, Audrey in As You Like It, Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Nurse in Romeo and Juliet, Mistress Quickly in Merry Wives of Windsor, Paulina in The Winters Tale, Ruth in Private Eyes, the woman in Laughing Wild, Arlene in Off the Map along with many others. At Mixed Company: Ramona in Zara Spook and Other Lures and Eileen in The Cripple of Inish-maan. A Designated Linklater Voice Teacher, she has taught voice for actors at Dartmouth, Smith, MIT, and at innumerable Shakespeare & Company workshops. She also curates the Wharton on Wednesday reading series at The Mount.

About Rachel Lee Priday

Acclaimed for her lyricism and compelling stage presence, violinist Rachel Lee Priday has appeared as soloist with leading international orchestras, including the Chicago, Saint Louis, Houston, Seattle, and National Symphonies, the Boston Pops, and the Berlin Staatskapelle. Recent highlights include performances of Paganini's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Buffalo Philharmonic, as well as extensive interdisciplinary collaborations with Ballet San Jose and conductor George Daugherty. Born in 1988 in Chicago, she made her orchestral debut at the Aspen Music Festival at the age of nine, and performed at the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the United Nations. Previous solo engagements have included appearances with the Colorado Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, and Aspen Sinfonia at the Aspen Music Festival. Rachel's frequent recital appearances have brought her to such venues as the Mostly Mozart Festival, the Kansas City Harriman-Jewell Discovery Series, Ravinia's "Rising Star" series, the Matinee Musicale series in Cincinnati, and the Dame Myra Hess Memorial series at the Chicago Cultural Center. In Europe, she has performed on the Louvre recital series in Paris, the Verbier Festival, the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival, and with the Graz Philharmonic. She has been a featured artist at the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra's "Chamber Music Marathon" and the Moritzburg Festival in Germany. She holds a B.A. in English literature from Harvard University, and a master's degree from New England Conservatory through its joint dual degree program with Harvard College.

About Adrian Daurov

A native of St. Petersburg, Russia, cellist Adrian Daurov is one of the most dazzling artists of his generation. Following a summer that included a Berkshires run of None But the Lonely Heart: The Strange Story of Tchaikovsky and Madame von Meck, a dramatic and chamber music collaboration between the Ensemble for the Romantic Century and Shakespeare & Company, Adrian Daurov's current season is highlighted by a return to The Embassy Series in Washington, DC and a debut with Matthew Savery and the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra. At the age of 15, he made his debut as soloist with the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra. Subsequently, he toured as soloist with the St. Petersburg Chamber Orchestra, was appointed to the dual position of principal cellist and soloist with the Bayreuth Youth Festival Orchestra, and was a featured participant in a gala Carnegie Hall concert celebrating Russia's Independence Day. After studying at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, Adrian Daurov was awarded the Jerome L. Greene Scholarship for advanced studies at The Juilliard School where he completed his Bachelor's and Master's degree. While still in school, he was appointed principal cellist of The Chamber Orchestra of New York; a year later, in 2008, he formed his own ensemble - now the award-winning Voxare String Quartet.

About Blake Friedman

"Fresh Lyric Tenor" (OperaNews Online) Blake Friedman, originally from Chicago, Illinois, currently resides in New York City. Praised for his "climactic high notes" by Q on Stage and his "compelling" performance by the Riverdale Press, Mr. Friedman has proven to be a versatile performer with repertoire ranging from baroque to contemporary, opera to musical theatre, and live-performance to recording. Recent performances in which Mr. Friedman has appeared include: Werther in Werther (Massenet), Rodolfo in La Boheme (Puccini), Nemorino in L'elisir d'amore (Donizetti) Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi (Puccini), Nicholas Astor in The Rivals (Mechem), and Il Duca di Mantova in Rigoletto (Verdi) He is featured on the Albany Records commercial recording of John Musto's Later the Same Evening (available on iTunes and Amazon) for his critically acclaimed portrayal of Jimmy O'Keefe and on recordings of music composed by Scott Eyerly and Philip S. Salter. He has performed on the stages of Avery Fisher Hall and The Walter Bruno Auditorium at Lincoln Center and Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall. Companies Mr. Friedman has worked with include Ash Lawn Opera, Bel Canto at Caramoor, Bronx Opera, Opera Company of Brooklyn, Ensemble ACWJ, Mid America Productions, The Little Opera Theatre of New York, Delaware Valley Opera, Astoria Symphony, North Duchess Symphony, Gregory Kunde Chorale, The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, The Eastman School of Music and The Castleton Artist Training Seminar. Mr. Friedman's awards include: Winner of a Schuyler Foundation for Career Bridges Encouragement Grant, Winner of The American Prize Friederich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Art Song Award, Finalist in The Fritz and Lavinia Jensen Vocal Competition, Top 10 Finalist in The Arkadi Foundation Competition and he is a Richard Rodgers Scholar, The Rodgers and Hammerstein Foundation.

About Daniel Mantei

Daniel Mantei began his ballet training with Ceyhun Ozsoy at Ozsoy School of Ballet. He graduated from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, Texas. In 2001, He was named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts and invited to dance at the Kennedy Center. Mantei attended The Royal Ballet School, performing with both The Royal and Birmingham Royal Ballets. Mantei joined American Ballet Theatre's Studio Company in 2002 and became a member of American Ballet Theatre in 2003. His repertory with ABT includes Paris in MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet, as well as leading roles in Antony Tudor's Continuo, Kirk Peterson's Amazed in Burning Dreams, Christopher Wheeldon's Thirteen Diversions, and Stanton Welch's Clear. From 2007 to 2011, Mantei studied with Maggie Black, working to refine an anatomically inspired alignment and to cultivate physical awareness. In 2010, Mantei choreographed Armaments on American Ballet Theatre in its "Innovation Initiative." In 2011, he created Tolling Bells on ABT at the Metropolitan Opera House. In 2012 he created Solace on Columbia Ballet Collaborative. Through his work, Mantei aims to explore themes of humanism by infusing classically inspired movement with an intention of anatomical and kinetic awareness.
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