Musica Viva Australia is thrilled to present Chopin’s Piano, a stunning fusion of chamber music and theatrical performances honouring Frederick Chopin’s revolutionary 24 Preludes, as well as the history of a small, craftsman’s pianino.
For acclaimed actor Jennifer Vuletic, the desire to be involved with the project was immediate.
“The instantaneous response was because the extraordinary Richard Pyros (writer/director of the stage adaptation, with whom I performed in Victorian Opera’s Happy End March 2022) rang me from the UK and asked me if I was interested. The more he spoke, the more intrigued and excited I became. A cavalcade of wonderful characters! and a chance to share the stage with the brilliant pianist Aura Go.”
In the work, the dramatic mix of words and music will underline the sheer originality of the Preludes and the enduring power of Chopin.
For Vuletic the work is the celebration of the unquestionably enriching effects of the Arts. The extraordinary lengths creators go to, the agonies and ecstasies they endure in the creative process.
“The astonishing work that goes into fashioning the instruments of art – whether it be a piano or brush and canvas, or quill and manuscript – and their capacity to endure war, theft, greed,” she says. “The honouring of the lives of those who have left their beautiful, indelible stamp on our hearts with their artistry. Still today, these themes resound.”
Vuletic says she has long loved Chopin: while knowing little about him at the outset, she had (as a teenage piano student) played some of his works, and always found them evocative.
“This work has brought me much closer to him, and to his contemporaries and latter exponents of his music. Discoveries aplenty! In particular around Wanda Landowska’s work and life…what a remarkable, wondrous embodiment of music she was! I would hesitate to inflict my playing on anyone these days! But to hear Chopin played with such delicacy, power, nuance as Aura brings to the work? Sheer joy.”
Vuletic admits that there were challenges in the early days of rehearsal: working from an existing template, outside in, as it were (given that this work had a previous iteration). These later rehearsals, and the time to explore in between, have provided space to delve far deeper into character and storytelling. “The piece is rich, and enriching, to perform. I hope the audience are enchanted by this treasure trail of music and artists, charted so masterfully by Paul Kildea in his book, and brought to the stage by Richard Pyros’ artful adaptation.”
An enduring part of our stage and screen, Vuletic finds it almost impossible to describe the sorts of stories she most likes to tell – the characters she most likes to explore.
“For each character has its own challenges and demands, and finding the way into their hearts and minds (and then back out again!) is the joy of it. The gift in this particular piece is that all of these people have lived. To be given the opportunity to try to inhabit these souls – and in quick succession! – is both a gift and a responsibility.”
Vuletic was lucky enough to be performing during the “dark years” of COVID! She acknowledges that there were contracts that were obliterated (notably the chance to play Yenta in the Australian Opera production of the Joel Grey Broadway hit A Fidler Afn Dakh – COVID eliminated that!) but she was fortunate to be cast in Wentworth for 2 seasons (as Mandy the Mullet) in 2020 and then as Gertrude In Malthouse’s ground breaking, COVID-defying Because The Night, which ran for almost all of 2021. IN fact, Vuletic has been performing solidly through 2022 and much of 2023 – extremely fortunate!
Vuletic continues to perform as the future holds a regional tour during September/October of Goddesses of Jazz (a Ruth Katerelos show, celebrating these songstresses) and thereafter, she says, is a mystery! There is a possible tour of a 2022 show…possible seasons at Adelaide Festival, MONA and Edinburgh of a show she performed in January-February 2023…all will be revealed in the fullness of time!
Written by Musica Viva Australia’s Artistic Director, Paul Kildea, author of the definitive novel on the topic, Chopin’s Piano: A Journey Through Romanticism with Richard Pyros, this one-of-a-kind production draws on an inspiring cast of real-life characters, weaving together a complete performance of the spellbinding 24 Preludes with magical storytelling, to trace the rich history and ultimate fate of the Majorcan piano.
Chopin’s Piano runs through till July 26