Television: Curtain Going Up On the 2015 Award-Winning London Production of Gypsy on PBS

Starring Imelda Staunton on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances Friday, November 11 at 9 p.m. on the PBS Arts Fall Festival

Jonathan Kent‘s award-winning production of the classic musical Gypsy – a record-breaking sellout during its acclaimed London run – comes to THIRTEEN‘s Great Performances, Friday, November 11 at 9 p.m. on PBS on the PBS Arts Fall Festival. (Check local listings.) Gypsy first appeared in 1959 on Broadway under the title Gypsy: A Musical Fable.

Great Performances: Gypsy

Rose (Imelda Staunton) in “Gypsy” Credit: ©2014 Johan Persson

The first London production to be seen for 40 years, the musical opened at England’s Chichester Festival Theatre before moving to the West End‘s Savoy Theatre. A London production had not been seen in the West End since 1973. This critically acclaimed West End production features Imelda Staunton as Rose (The role of Rose is often called the ‘King Lear’ of the musical theatre canon).

Great Performances: Gypsy

Herbie (Peter Davison) and Rose (Imelda Staunton) in “Gypsy” Credit: ©2014 Johan Persson

Following a run at the Chichester Festival Theatre, which won the Critics’ Choice Theatre Award for Best Musical in 2014, a West End revival of Gypsy opened at the Savoy Theatre on April 15, 2015, in a limited run through November 28. Directed by Jonathan Kent with choreography by Stephen Mear and set and costume design by Anthony Ward, the production starred Staunton as Rose, Peter Davison as Herbie, Lara Pulver as Louise, Gemma Sutton as June, Anita Louise Combe as Tessie Tura, Louise Gold as Mazzeppa and Julie Legrand as Electra. The London production was nominated for eight Laurence Olivier Awards at the 2016 ceremony, winning four, including Best Actress in a Musical (Staunton) and Best Musical Revival, the most awards won by a single production in that year

Great Performances: Gypsy

Louise (Lara Pulver) in “Gypsy” Credit: ©2014 Johan Persson

Gypsy is considered by many to be one of Broadway’s all-time triumphs. It tells the story of ambitious showbiz mother Rose, who treks across the country with her daughters Baby June and Louise in search of success with their homespun vaudeville act. As times change, Rose is forced to accept the demise of vaudeville and the rise of burlesque, as well as her daughters’ quest for autonomy.

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Baby June (Isla Huggins-Barr) in “Gypsy” Credit: ©2014 Johan Persson

With a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the show was suggested by the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee. The musical was initially a project of producer David Merrick and actress Ethel Merman (who starred as the original Rose). Merrick had read a chapter of Lee’s memoirs in Harper’s Magazine and approached Lee to obtain the rights. Jerome Robbins was interested, and wanted Leland Hayward as co-producer; (Merman also wanted Hayward to produce her next show.) Merrick and Hayward approached Laurents to write the book. As he relates, Laurents initially was not interested until he saw that the story was one of parents living their children’s lives. Composers Irving Berlin and Cole Porter declined the project. Finally, Robbins asked Stephen Sondheim, who agreed to do it. Sondheim had previously worked with Robbins and Laurents on the musical West Side Story. However, Merman did not want an unknown composer, and wanted Jule Styne to write the music. Although Sondheim initially refused to write only the lyrics, he was persuaded by Oscar Hammerstein to accept the job.

Great Performances: Gypsy

Mazeppa (Louise Gold) in “Gypsy” Credit: ©2014 Johan Persson

The score features songs that have since become show standards, and helped launch the career of Sondheim. “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” “Some People,” “Let Me Entertain You,” “Together, Wherever We Go” and of course “Rose’s Turn” are among the musical highlights. Continue reading

Hamilton’s America: PBS’s Great Performances to Air Behind-The-Scene’s Documentary on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway Blockbuster Hit, Hamilton

A Behind-the-Scenes Look At Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway Musical Hamilton Coming to GREAT PERFORMANCES in Fall 2016 as Part of PBS Arts

Produced by Radical Media, The Performance Documentary Features Scenes From “Hamilton” And Interviews With Key Thinkers And Artists

PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger announced at the recent Television Critics Association Press Tour that it will air HAMILTON’S AMERICA, a feature film documentary providing intimate access to Lin-Manuel Miranda and his colleagues during the two years leading up to the Broadway opening of the blockbuster hit musical Hamilton. A contemporary perspective of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s revolutionary musical based on the life of United States Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, HAMILTON’S AMERICA will come to GREAT PERFORMANCES in the fall 2016, and will be a highlight of PBS’s Arts programming.

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Hamilton The Musical Official Broadway Poster

Hamilton was a poor immigrant who built himself up from nothing to become the architect of modern finance and one of the nation’s most vital authors, but his story was cut short by scandal and untimely tragedy. He was killed in a duel by Vice President Aaron Burr, and his contributions to modern society have largely been forgotten by today’s general public.

Today, Hamilton’s fan club is vocal and growing, and at the center of it is Tony®, Grammy® and Emmy®-winning composer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda.

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Screenshot from Hamilton! The musical

Hamilton opened on Broadway on August 6, 2015 to rave reviews and unprecedented advance ticket sales. The show is redefining how audiences learn about history–a history rife with issues as relevant today as they were during Hamilton’s era.

Based on Ron Chernow’s biography, Hamilton has book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, is directed by Thomas Kail, choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler, with musical direction and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire.

HAMILTON’S AMERICA is being produced by Academy Award® and Emmy®-Winning producers Radical Media (What Happened Miss Simone?, Keith Richards:Under The Influence, In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams for PBS).  The documentary combines interviews with experts and prominent personalities, new footage of the production in New York, and cast-led expeditions to DC, Philadelphia and New York.  Audiences will sit with Miranda as he composes songs in Aaron Burr’s Manhattan bedroom. They’ll take a trip to Virginia with Chris Jackson – the African-American actor who portrays George Washington – and watch him place a wreath on Washington’s grave, as he discusses the difficulty of grappling with our founders’ legacy of slavery.  Back in New York, Miranda and Leslie Odom, Jr. – who plays Aaron Burr – visit the Museum of American Finance to get their hands on some 19th-century dueling pistols and stage a quick re-enactment.

PBS is thrilled to give viewers an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at this sensational—and sold out—Broadway musical,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming, PBS.  “With this level of access to Lin-Manuel Miranda and his team, PBS continues to live up to our mission of giving viewers a backstage pass and a front row seat to the arts.” 

Since we presented ‘In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams’ in 2009, we’ve been taken by Lin-Manuel’s unique talents and we’re honored to collaborate with him again on ‘Hamilton’s America’,” said David Horn, Executive Producer, “Great Performances.”  “The film will offer audiences a fascinating point of view as we witness first-hand Lin’s inspiration and creative process, as well as the lasting impact of Alexander Hamilton on our society today.”

On behalf of the entire Hamilton cast and creative team, many of whom are In The Heights alumni, we are overjoyed to be returning to PBS in partnership with RadicalMedia with this project,” said Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator, writer and star of Hamilton.  We invited filmmaker Alex Horwitz into ‘the room where it happened’ a few years ago, and he’s captured parts of this journey no one has seen.  We can’t wait to share it, thanks to PBS.”

Produced by Radical Media in association with Thirteen Productions LLC for WNET and PBSHAMILTON’S AMERICA is directed by Alex Horwitz and produced by Nicole Pusateri, with Jon Kamen, Justin Wilkes, Dave Sirulnick, Jeffrey Seller and Lin-Manuel Miranda as executive producers. For GREAT PERFORMANCES, Bill O’Donnell is series producer; David Horn is executive producer.

GREAT PERFORMANCES is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, The Joseph & Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, The LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, Rosalind P. Walter, The Agnes Varis Trust, The Starr Foundation, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, Ellen and James S. Marcus, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, the Lenore Hecht Foundation, and PBS. 

Visit Great Performances Online at www.pbs.org/gperf for additional information about this and other programs.

Television: New Staging of Verdi’s Masterpiece Otello Debuts On Great Performances at the Met Sunday, February 21 at 12 p.m. on PBS

Conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin and Directed by Bartlett Sher, Aleksandrs Antonenko, One Of The World’s Leading Interpreters of Otello, Sings His First Met Performances Of The Role, Opposite Sonya Yoncheva as Desdemona and Željko Lučić as the Villainous Iago

Verdi’s late masterpiece based on Shakespeare’s tragic drama of jealousy and deceit, Otello, airs on THIRTEEN’S Great Performances at the Met Sunday, February 21 at 12 p.m. on PBS. (Check local listings.) (In New York, THIRTEEN will air the opera at 12:30 p.m.)

Tony Award-winning director Bartlett Sher‘s acclaimed new production is led by dynamic conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin with Aleksandrs Antonenko in his first Met performance as the tormented Moor of Venice, with Sonya Yoncheva in her role debut as his innocent wife, Desdemona. Bass-baritone Eric Owens hosts the broadcast.

Great Performances at the Met: Otello

Aleksandrs Antonenko in the title role Željko Lučić as Iago in Verdi’s “Otello”. Photographed by Ken Howard/ Metropolitan Opera

Also featuring Željko Lučić as Otello’s sinister rival, IagoDimitri Pittas as Cassio, and Günther Groissböck as Lodovico, this staging also marks the Met debut of set designer Es Devlin, whose previous designs include the 2014 revival of Machinal on Broadway and numerous opera productions for Covent Garden, La Scala, and other leading companies.

Otello was originally seen live in movie theaters on October 17, 2015 as part of the groundbreaking The Met: Live in HD series, which transmits live performances to more than 2,000 movie theaters and performing arts centers in over 70 countries around the world. The Live in HD series has reached a record-breaking 18 million viewers since its inception in 2006.

Great Performances at the Met: Otello

Sonya Yoncheva as Desdemona and Aleksandrs Antonenko in the title role of Verdi’s “Otello”. Photographed by Ken Howard/ Metropolitan Opera

Often cited as Italian opera’s greatest tragedy, Otello is a miraculous union of music and drama, a masterpiece as profound philosophically as it is thrilling theatrically. Shakespeare’s tale of an outsider, a great hero who can’t control his jealousy, was carefully molded by the librettist Arrigo Boito into a taut and powerful opera text. Otello almost wasn’t written: following the success of Aida and his setting of the Requiem mass in the early 1870s, Verdi considered himself retired, and it took Boito and publisher Giulio Ricordi several years to persuade him to take on a major new work.

WNET NEW YORK PUBLIC MEDIA GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET LOGO

ACT I

Cyprus, late 19th century. During a violent storm, the people of Cyprus await the return of their governor and general of the Venetian fleet, the Moor Otello. He has been fighting the Muslim Turks and guides his victorious navy to safe harbor. In his absence, the young Venetian Roderigo has arrived in Cyprus and fallen in love with Otello’s new wife, Desdemona. Otello’s ensign Iago, who secretly hates the governor for promoting the officer Cassio over him, promises Roderigo to help win her. While the citizens celebrate their governor’s return, Iago launches his plan to ruin Otello. Knowing that Cassio gets drunk easily, Iago proposes a toast. Cassio declines to drink, but abandons his scruples when Iago salutes Desdemona, who is a favorite of the people. Iago then goads Roderigo into provoking a fight with Cassio, who is now fully drunk. Montano, the former governor, tries to separate the two, and Cassio attacks him as well. Otello appears to restore order, furious about his soldiers’ behavior. When he realizes that Desdemona has also been disturbed by the commotion, he takes away Cassio’s recent promotion and dismisses everyone. Otello and Desdemona reaffirm their love.

Great Performances at the Met: Otello

Günther Groissböck as Lodovico in Verdi’s Otello. Photo by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera.

ACT II

Iago advises Cassio to present his case to Desdemona, arguing that her influence on Otello will secure his rehabilitation. Alone, Iago reveals his bleak, nihilistic view of humankind. He makes dismissive remarks about Desdemona’s fidelity to Otello, whose jealousy is easily aroused. Otello’s suspicious are raised when Desdemona appears and appeals to him on Cassio’s behalf. Otello evasively complains of a headache, and Desdemona offers him a handkerchief, which he tosses to the ground. Emilia, Iago’s wife and Desdemona’s maidservant, retrieves it, and Iago seizes the handkerchief from her. Left alone with Otello, Iago fans the flames of the governor’s suspicions by inventing a story of how Cassio had spoken of Desdemona in his sleep, and how he saw her handkerchief in Cassio’s hand. Seething with jealousy, Otello is now convinced that his wife is unfaithful. The two men join in an oath to punish Cassio and Desdemona. Continue reading

GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET: LES CONTES D’HOFFMANN

Great Performances at the Met: "Les Contes d’Hoffmann" - Erin Morley as Olympia in Offenbach's "Les Contes d’Hoffmann." Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Great Performances at the Met: “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” – Erin Morley as Olympia in Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann.”
Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Italian Tenor Vittorio Grigolo stars in the title role as the tortured poet unlucky in love in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann on Great Performances at the Met Sunday, May 10 at 12 p.m. on PBS, in a production by Broadway director Bartlett SherThomas Hampson adds a new role to his extensive repertory as the Four Villains who interfere with Hoffmann’s courtship of four women: the mechanical doll Olympia, sung by American soprano Erin Morley in her role debut; the consumptive artist Antonia and the self-absorbed diva Stella, both portrayed by Russian soprano Hibla Gerzmava; and the Venetian courtesan Giulietta, sung by English mezzo-soprano Christine Rice. American mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey takes the trouser role of Nicklausse, Hoffmann’s faithful muse, and Canadian conductor Yves Abel leads the cast. Soprano Deborah Voigt hosts the broadcast.

Great Performances at the Met: "Les Contes d’Hoffmann" - Vittorio Grigolo in the title role of Offenbach's "Les Contes d’Hoffmann." Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Great Performances at the Met: “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” – Vittorio Grigolo in the title role of Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann.” Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Great Performances at the Met: "Les Contes d’Hoffmann" - Hibla Gerzmava as Antonia in Offenbach's "Les Contes d’Hoffmann." Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Great Performances at the Met: “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” – Hibla Gerzmava as Antonia in Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann.”
Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

After becoming the toast of Paris with his witty operettas, Jacques Offenbach set out to create a more serious work. He chose as his source a successful play based on the stories of visionary German writer E.T.A. Hoffmann. Three of these tales—at once profound, eerie, and funny—were unified in the play by a narrative frame that made Hoffmann the protagonist of his own tales. Each episode recounts a catastrophic love affair: first with a girl who turns out to be an automated doll, then with a sickly young singer, and finally with a Venetian courtesan. In the prologue and epilogue, the hero is involved with an opera singer who seems like a combination of these three previous loves. Throughout the opera, Hoffmann is dogged by a diabolical nemesis and accompanied by his faithful friend Nicklausse, whose true identity is only revealed after bitter experience. Failure in love eventually fuels his future artistic success. Offenbach died before the premiere, leaving posterity without an authorized version of the score.

Erin Morley as Olympia in Offenbach's "Les Contes d’Hoffmann." Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Erin Morley as Olympia in Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann.”
Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Vittorio Grigolo in the title role of Offenbach's "Les Contes d’Hoffmann." Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Vittorio Grigolo in the title role of Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann.”
Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Les Contes d’Hoffmann will be broadcast on THIRTEEN’S Great Performances at the Met Sunday, May 10 at 12 p.m. on PBS.  (Check local listings.) (In New York, THIRTEEN will air the opera at 12:30 p.m.) Les Contes d’Hoffmann was originally seen live in movie theaters on January 31, 2015 as part of the groundbreaking The Met: Live in HD series, which transmits live performances to more than 2,000 movie theaters and performing arts centers in over 70 countries around the world. The Live in HD series has reached a record-breaking 17 million viewers since its inception in 2006. Continue reading

GREAT PERFORMANCES – BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: ANDRIS NELSONS INAUGURAL CONCERT

Boston Symphony Orchestra: Andris Nelsons Inaugural Concert Featuring The Conductor’s First Concert as BSO Music Director Airs on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances Friday, May 29 at 9 p.m. on PBS

Soprano Kristine Opolais and Tenor Jonas Kaufmann join Nelsons for an eclectic program of operatic and orchestral masterworks

Andris Nelson conducts the Boston Symphony Orchestra in his ingural concert as music Director, 9/27/14. Photo by Chris Lee

Andris Nelson conducts the Boston Symphony Orchestra in his ingural concert as music Director, 9/27/14. Photo by Chris Lee

Last September’s gala event celebrating the start of BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons’ tenure with the orchestra features two of the conductor’s close colleagues: his wife, the acclaimed Latvian soprano Kristine Opolais, and the outstanding German tenor Jonas Kaufmann, each singing selections from the Wagnerian and Italian verismo repertoires.  The Great Performances special, Boston Symphony Orchestra: Andris Nelsons Inaugural Concert, airsFriday, May 29 at 9 p.m. on PBS. (Check local listings.)

Born in Riga in 1978 into a family of musicians, Andris Nelsons began his career as a trumpeter in the Latvian National Opera Orchestra before studying conducting. He married fellow Latvian Opalais in 2011 at the Latvian National Opera when Nelsons was principal conductor, and she a member of the company, and they have a daughter.

The concert opens fittingly with Wagner’s Tannhäuser Overture—the work that first inspired a five-year-old Nelsons to a life in music—and closes with Respighi’s spectacular orchestral showcase, Pines of Rome. The program selections shine a special focus on this exciting new collaboration between conductor and orchestra, and also include Wagner’s Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde, with Opolais; and the Intermezzo from Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana.

Kaufmann and Opolais—both frequent Nelsons collaborators—join in a performance of the famous duet “Tu, tu, amore? Tu?” from Puccini’s Manon Lescaut.  Each singer takes center stage for solo arias, with Opolais singing “Un bel di” from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. When Kaufmann returns to the stage he sings two beloved tenor selections: the title character’s magical third-act narrative, “In fernem Land,” from Wagner’s Lohengrin, and the dramatic aria, “Mamma, quel vino è generoso,” from Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana.

Andris Nelson conducts the Boston Symphony Orchestra in his ingural concert as music Director, 9/27/14. Photo by Chris Lee

Andris Nelson conducts the Boston Symphony Orchestra in his inaugural concert as music Director, 9/27/14. Photo by Chris Lee

Jonas Kaufmann and Andris Nelsons as seen in "Great Performances – Boston Symphony Orchestra: Andris Nelsons Inaugural Concert." Photo by Chris Lee

Jonas Kaufmann and Andris Nelsons as seen in “Great Performances – Boston Symphony Orchestra: Andris Nelsons Inaugural Concert.” Photo by Chris Lee

Continue reading

Acclaimed Soprano RENEE FLEMING and JOHAN BOTHA star in OTELLO, VERDI’s towering tragedy of jealousy and murder, on GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET Sunday, FEBRUARY 24 at 12 Noon on PBS

SEMYON BYCHKOV conducts the Shakespearean drama, which also features FALK STRUCKMANN as Iago and MICHAEL FABIANO as Cassio

 

Renée Fleming as Desdemona and Johan Botha in the title role of Verdi's "Otello."Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Renée Fleming as Desdemona and Johan Botha in the title role of Verdi’s “Otello.”
Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

RENEE FLEMING

RENEE FLEMING

VERDI‘s Shakespearean tragedy Otello starring JOHAN BOTHA in the title role and RENEE FLEMING as Otello’s innocent wife, Desdemona, airs on GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET Sunday, February 24 at 12 noon on PBS (check local listings). SEMYON BYCHKOV, who led an acclaimed run of performances featuring Botha and Fleming in the 2007-08 season, again conducts the opera, regarded by many critics as Verdi’s dramatic masterpiece. FALK STRUCKMANN takes the role of the villain Iago for the first time at The Metropolitan Opera, and rising tenor MICHAEL FABIANO, a winner of the Met’s 2007 NATIONAL COUNCIL AUDITIONS, makes his house role debut as Cassio. Otello will be seen in ELIJAH MOSHINSKY’s production, which premiered at the Met in 1994. Continue reading