Sarah Rothenberg’s A Proust Sonata (2016)

World premiere: February 11, 2016
Cullen Theater, Wortham Theater Center

Additional productions:
Rice University Moody Center for the Arts Nov. 16-18, 2017
Lois Chiles Studio Theater

New York Premiere: January 10-12, 2018 at FIAF French Institute Alliance Francaise
FIAF Florence Gould Hall

Reviews from the New York premiere:

“A highly original theater piece making use of contemporary sounds and sights (and modern technology) to summarize the vast masterpiece, creating a serene occasion… Miss Rothenberg, at her piano, and her well-chosen collaborators, have created [an] uncategorizable and delectable event.” — Parterre

“[a] stunning gesamtkunstwerk (to coin a phrase). How impressed we are by scholarship translated into entertainment!” — Voce Di Meche

“Ms. Rothenberg offers here a sensuous, sometimes ravishing conception of acting, music, immaculate videos and a corporeal picture of the artist in multiple guises…[an] epic creation.”–

Conceived, written and directed by Sarah Rothenberg
Lighting: Jennifer Tipton
Scenic and costume design: Marina Draghici
Projection design: Hannah Wasileski
Sound design: Bart Fasbender

Original Cast:
Narrator: Henry Stram
Celeste/Francoise: Nancy Hume
Tenor: Nicholas Phan
Violinist: Boson Mo
Pianist: Sarah Rothenberg
String quartet: Jackson Guillen, violin; Jae-Won Bang, violin; Jill Valentine, viola; Sonya Matoussova, cello

Works of Fauré, Debussy, Chopin, Ravel, Leon Delafosse, Reynaldo Hahn and Beethoven. Texts from Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time and Celeste Albaret’s memoir, Monsieur Proust

Enter the creative world of Marcel Proust’s literary masterpiece and the music, paintings and people that inspired it.

Sarah Rothenberg’s A Proust Sonata is inspired by Marcel Proust’s early 20th century masterpiece, In Search of Lost Time, and the author’s final reclusive years when he withdrew from French society to complete his seven volume magnum opus. Rothenberg interweaves text, music and image, evoking the fashionable world of belle epoque salons, Proust’s brilliant insights on art and music, and the connection between memory and the passage of time captured so eloquently in Proust’s great work .

Celebrated Obie-Award winning actor Henry Stram, as the Narrator, brings Proust’s prose to life on stage. Solo piano works, French art song, and Fauré’s sonata for violin and piano are performed within seven tableaux based on sections of the great novel. The abstract set, designed by Marina Draghici, creates multiple surfaces for projections created from paintings, photography and Proust’s manuscripts in this multimedia, interdisciplinary performance.

A Proust Sonata merges art forms in order to illuminate a central theme of Proust’s novel – how art can triumph over time.

“Its seven tableaux/movements echoing Remembrance’s seven volumes, A Proust Sonata is a dreamily evocative mood piece…Rothenberg played with feathery delicacy that later in the program she replaced with a more robust sound…Rothenberg gave Chopin’s “Berceuse” and Debussy’s “Harmonie du soir” more starch and grit than one often hears.” — William Albright in Classical Voice North America, reviewing the world premiere in Houston

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