Tony Nominee Max von Essen to Lead ERC's THE DREYFUS AFFAIR at BAM
Celebrating its 16th season, the critically-acclaimed Ensemble for the Romantic Century (ERC) returns to BAM Fisher with a two-week run of The Dreyfus Affair.
Written by Eve Wolf and directed by Donald T. Sanders, this multi-media production illuminates the controversial story of the 1894 treason conviction of Captain Alfred Dreyfus that had a decades-long reverberation in the political landscape of France and the rest of the world.
Featuring Max von Essen (Tony Nominee for An American in Paris) in the title role of Alfred Dreyfus and Mark Evans (Irish Rep's Finian's Rainbow) as his devoted brother Mathieu Dreyfus, this tragic tale of intrigue, undying love, conspiracy, and political will is brought to life through the fusion of drama, history, and music.
The Dreyfus Affair evolved around the false arrest and imprisonment of the innocent Captain Alfred Dreyfus (1859-1935), a highly decoratEd French Jewish officer. Traumatic soul-searching ensued and French society erupted into a fireball of anti-Semitism and political partisanship that called into question the very nature of French identity.
"The Dreyfus Affair is a symbol of injustice," says Eve Wolf, Founder and Executive Director of ERC and author of The Dreyfus Affair. "It spectacularly exposed the virulent right-wing forces in French society - forces that can be traced down to our own day, and not only in France. Yet the heart of this story is not the injustice itself, but the moving fact that people of character and fortitude - Émile Zola, Georges Piquart, and the Dreyfus family - risked their lives, careers, and fortunes to get to the truth. They never gave up or gave in, and this is perpetually relevant."
Based on letters, diaries, memoirs, speeches, and accounts by the historical figures involved in the Dreyfus Affair, the poignant script includes text from Émile Zola's newspaper article J'Accuse, unquestionably the most important piece of journalistic writing that transformed the private plight of Alfred Dreyfus into an "affair" of national and international significance.
Through live chamber music, The Dreyfus Affair captures the human and sociopolitical drama of this turbulent period. The production includes the music of César Franck (1822-1890), considered a bastion of French chamber music and the composer who stands at the gateway of the revival of absolute music in France; Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), who was perceived to embody quintessentially French values; the venerable legacy of Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764), whose music was considered to be untainted by foreign influences; and excerpts from the politically charged opera La Juive by Jacques Fromental Halévy (1799-1862), one of the most successful Jewish composers in France during the 19th century.
The Dreyfus Affair is the third and final production in a trilogy of ERC historic music dramas at BAM.
The Ensemble for the Romantic Century, now in its 16th Season, has set out to achieve the impossible: Time Travel. Its unique productions merge dramatic and fully staged scripts with music, recapturing the past with a sense of immediacy that transports, illuminates, and captivates. The scripts, drawn from historical material that includes letters, diaries, memoirs, newspaper articles, poetry, and literature create an intricate counterpoint to the musical program. The subject matters span across centuries, from Tolstoy to Toscanini, from Verne to Van Gogh, all brought to life through the fusion of drama and sound. By illuminating the interplay between literature, biography and music ERC transforms the concert experience.
Ensemble for the Romantic Century, now in its 16th season, was founded by pianist Eve Wolf in 2001, with the intention of creating an engaging and innovative approach to chamber music concerts. ERC's stellar team includes Eve Wolf, Executive Artistic Director and fellow-pianist; Max Barros, co-Artistic Director; James Melo, Musicologist; Donald T. Sanders, Director of Theatrical Production; Vanessa James, Production Designer; Beverly Emmons, Lighting Designer; and David Bengali, Projection Designer, as well as a roster of some of the finest actors and musicians active today. ERC's theatrical concerts interweave letters, memoirs, diaries, poems, and other literature with chamber and vocal music; the music's historical context is reinforced through its connections with history, politics, philosophy, psychology, and the other arts to create a compelling new performance experience.
ERC has, to date, created over 40 original theatrical concerts. ERC has partnered with or performed at institutions such as BAM (Brooklyn Academy Of Music); Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA; The Jewish Museum of New York; the Archivio Fano of Venice, Italy; the Festival de Musique de Chambre Montréal; the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts/MIFA; the French Institute-Alliance Française/FIAF, New York; the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies at Columbia University; the Italian Cultural Institute of New York; and the City University of New York (CUNY). Since 2007, ERC has been a musicological affiliate in residence at the Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation at the CUNY Graduate Center, where ERC has established an annual series of interdisciplinary seminars for each of the Ensemble's concerts. The seminar series is now officially recognized as one of the academic projects of the Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation. ERC's artistic excellence has been recognized through professional performance grants from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA). These grants are a testimony to the growing recognition of the Ensemble as one of the most innovative chamber music groups in New York.
Highlights of ERC's past 15 seasons include: Seduction, Smoke and Music: The Love Story of Chopin and George Sand (2010-2011 season), a theatrical concert written and conceived by Ensemble for the Romantic Century and Barrett Wissman, Executive Producer, Barrett Wissman and IMG Artists was performed in Italy at The Tuscan Sun Festival, with Hollywood superstar Jeremy Irons as Chopin and Sinéad Cusack as George Sand, and with ballet greats Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Beloserkovsky of American Ballet Theater. This same production was featured in the Festival del Solein Napa Valley on July 19th, 2012.
About Eve Wolf (Founder, Executive Artistic Director, Pianist, and Playwright of ERC) - Ms. Wolf's script, Anna Akhmatova: The Heart Is Not Made of Stone, produced at BAM in April 2016, was chosen as a New York Times Critics' Pick. Ms. Wolf also performed in the production, which The New York Times praised as "Engrossing...gorgeous..." with "rapturous accounts of Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich..." The musicians' playing, which included Ms. Wolf, was described as "a first-rate chamber ensemble...exquisite, alternately delicate and muscular..." Critics also called Ms. Wolf "an absolute star on the piano, emitting brilliant light," in ERC's June 2015 production of The Sorrows of Young Werther at Symphony Space in New York.
Ms. 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 fifteen 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 Ms. Wolf's scripts for Tchaikovsky: None but the Lonely Heart, which was performed at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA during the summer of 2013 and at BAM in March 2014. Critics praised the production as "Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful...five-star talent..." and described Ms. Wolf's playing as "achingly beautiful."
Other highlights include 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, Ms. Wolf was the featured soloist in the theatrical concert Beethoven Love Elegies, for which she wrote the script. She also wrote the scripts for Jekyll & Hyde (2013), in which she was a featured soloist, and Frankenstein: Every Woman's Nightmare (2013).
Ms. 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 is currently on the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music and Columbia University-Teachers College, and has been a professional mentor at The Juilliard School. Ms. Wolf's central teacher and mentor is Seymour Bernstein, whose life and work is the subject of a critically acclaimed 2015 documentary by Ethan Hawke called Seymour: An Introduction. Other teachers have included Richard Goode, Peter Serkin, and Paul Badura-Skoda. Ms. Wolf has taught her seminar "Confronting Memory: Memory Techniques for Musicians" in the United States and abroad.
About Donald T. Sanders (Director of Theatrical Production) - Mr. Sanders has been director of theatrical production for ERC since 2005. In 2011, he directed Seduction, Smoke and Music at the Tuscan Sun Festival starring Jeremy Irons and Sinéad Cusack. Other ERC productions include: 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 as well as the off-Broadway plays of Arnold Weinstein, Eric Bentley, Kenneth Koch and William Russo. Sanders is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama. He is the Executive Artistic Director of The Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA), presenting such artists as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Vanessa Redgrave, England's Out of Joint and Complicite companies, 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.
IF YOU GO:
The Dreyfus Affair
Premiered: 2007 at The Kosciuszko Foundation, New York City, NY
Written by Eve Wolf
Directed by Donald T. Sanders
Sets and Costumes by Vanessa James
Lighting Design by Beverly Emmons
Projection Design by David Bengali
Actors: Mark Andrew Coffin (Commandant Hubert-Joseph Henry), Max von Essen (Alfred Dreyfus), Mark Evans (Mathieu Dreyfus), Dee Pelletier (Madame Bastian), Meghan Picerno (Lucie Dreyfus), Daniel Rowan (Maximilien von Schwartzkoppen), Mark Light-Orr (Count Marie Charles Ferdinand Wallin-Esterhazy), Richard Waddingham (Lieutenant-Colonel Mercer Paty de Clam)
Musicians: Grace Park (violin), Daniel Cho (violin), Chieh-Fan Yiu (viola), Nico Olarte-Hayes (cello), Jake Chabot (flute & piccolo), Parker Ramsey (organ & harpsichord), Max Barros (piano)
Casting by Stephanie Klapper Casting
Runs Thursday, April 27-Sunday, May 7, 2017, at 7:30 p.m., Matinee shows April 29-30 &May 6-7 at 2:00 p.m.
At BAM Fisher (Fishman Space), 321 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, NY, 11217. 2/3/4/5/Q/B: Atlantic Ave; D/N/R: Pacific Ave; G: Fulton; C: Lafayette Ave
Tickets: $55 and Up. Students/Seniors $40 (in-person only). To purchase, contact BAM at 718.636.4100 or BAM.org/music/2017/the-dreyfus-affair.
This event is presented by Ensemble for the Romantic Century. Regular BAM house and ticketing policies may not apply.
For more information, visit RomanticCentury.org.Related Articles From This Author BWW News Desk