On May 5 and 6, pianist András Schiff's Perspectives continues with a pair of concerts—including a Carnegie Hall Family Concert—with the Salzburg Marionette Theater.
Read Schiff's charming explanation of how this "strange" collaboration came about, then watch what's in store for Zankel Hall audiences.
The collaboration with the puppet theater of Salzburg is strange indeed. But it came about because of this wonderful work of Claude Debussy, La boîte à joujoux, which is a unique composition. I don't know of another piece of music from a great composer for puppets and piano alone.
We did this piece many years ago at my festival in Mondsee [Austria], when Boris Berman played the piano. Philippe Brunner—who is now one of the leading members of the Salzburg Marionette Theater—was still a little boy (maybe 12 years old), and he and his school friends had a puppet theater that they put together in Berlin just for fun. This was their hobby. They made the puppets and they would perform The Magic Flute and other Mozart operas. I saw this, and it was absolutely delightful. So I commissioned the children—then still in Berlin—to prepare this Debussy piece for my festival in Austria.
Many years passed, and I thought, "Philippe is now a professional puppeteer. Why don't we revisit this idea?"
So I asked him again to make a production, and another one of the original boys, Hinrich Horstkotte—who is now an opera director—was the director. It was wonderful! We performed the premiere in Ittingen in May 2010, during a festival in Switzerland that I do jointly with Heinz Holliger. We are very excited to bring it to New York.
Related: Perspectives: András SchiffMay 2 András SchiffMay 3 Making Music: Jörg WidmannMay 5 Salzburg Marionette Theater | András SchiffMay 6 Carnegie Hall Family Concert: Salzburg Marionette Theater | András SchiffMay 12 András Schiff | Christian Gerhaher