The true love story of music legends Robert Schumann and Clara Wieck is the stuff of 19th century sturm und drang: forbidden love, lofty language, melancholy, and early death. Portraying this passionate couple on Wednesday evening, Sting in waistcoat, with his wife, actor, producer, political activist, Trudie Styler, begowned in a splendid black Roland Mouret strapless swept across the stage at the Allen Room of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Silhouetted against the expansive darkening sky over Central Park, the players looked iconic, the night magic, for an awestruck packed house.
The Culture Project in association with Music Unites hosted this special production of Twin Spirits, in celebration of Robert Schumann's 200th birthday. Narrated by David Strathairn, the program featured violinist Joshua Bell, pianists Jeremy Denk and Natasha Paremski, cellist Nina Kotova. Nathan Gunn and Camille Zamora portrayed Robert and Clara in song. In a collaboration that dates back to 2005, director John Caird crafted this "poetic meditation" on passionate love, combining Robert and Clara's love letters, their marriage diary, with compositions mostly from Robert Schumann with additional music from Chopin and Mozart.
After the stunning performance, Mayor Bloomberg addressed the audience, including Precious Oscar winning scriptwriter Geoffrey Fletcher, actors Joel Grey and Richard Kind, Denise Rich, among many others. The mayor had one complaint, that he had not been offered the role of Robert Schumann. After all, he said, being a dashing young leading man, "that's what I do." He went on to thank Sting and the Police for their hefty donation to the city for the planting of trees. Proceeds from "Twin Spirits" would go to music education.
Trudie Styler said her understanding of Clara came from seeing this talented woman as a heroic figure -- after all, through the tragic circumstance of Robert's demise, she supported their eight children. She also kept the delicate loving advances of Brahms at bay. Sting quipped that this expert ensemble had met that afternoon-except Trudie, he laughed. "I've known her longer."
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