|Hershey Felder in his Chopin persona. (Photo by Hershey Felder Presents)|
Hershey Felder has become an audience favorite in the Bay Area and elsewhere for his one-man shows based on famous composers like Debussy, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein and George Gershwin.
Now he has brought another one-man show, “Hershey Felder: Chopin in Paris,” to TheatreWorks Silicon Valley.
In this show he becomes the composer-pianist teaching a piano class in Paris (with the audience as his students).
Along the way, he reveals much of Fryderyk Chopin’s history and performs some of his most famous piano works.
Felder bases his show on meticulous historical research and offers fascinating insights into both the man and his music.
Although Chopin was Polish by birth, he spent most of his adult life in Paris, with some sojourns to other major European cities. Still, he never forgot his Polish roots and always loved his native country.
This show takes place in Paris during the afternoon of March 4, 1848, the year before his death at the age of 39.
After an introduction, he goes to the grand piano that dominates his salon and plays his first composition, written when he was just 7 years old. He later says that he first became fascinated with the family piano when he was just 2.
In another segment, he bewails the Russian occupation of Poland and the suffering of his people – not unlike what’s happening in Ukraine today, but he makes no note of that.
He also goes into depth about his eight-year relationship with writer Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, better known as the cigar-smoking George Sand, whom Chopin called Madam.
During a Q and A with his students (the audience), he cites Bach and Mozart as two of his major musical influences.
Toward the end of the show, he talks of what Sand called his melancholy, a trait evidenced in several scenes where he imagines terrible things happening to his family and others.
This show apparently is a revision of an earlier Felder show, “Monsieur Chopin,” seen at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in 2014.
Felder is an accomplished musician and story-teller, resulting in a fascinating, enjoyable theatrical work.
Directed by Joel Zwick, the show features the book and set by Felder with lighting by Erik S. Barry (too much red in some scenes).
Running about two hours, including the Q and A’s, but no intermission, “Hershey Felder: Chopin in Paris” will continue through Sept. 11 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain View.
For tickets and information, call (877) 662-8978 or visit www.theatreworks.org.