Sting and Trudie Styler Star in Twin Spirits DVD
The poignant and tragic love story of Robert and Clara Schumann told in words and music released on Opus Arte September 29th DVD sales to support the vital work of the Royal Opera House Education Program
On September 29th, Opus Arte presents Twin Spirits, the story of the passionate romance and subsequent marriage between composer Robert Schumann and piano prodigy Clara Wieck, available on DVD and Blu-Ray disc. This production from the Royal Opera House brings together nine diverse performers of the highest caliber: Sting, an artist who defies simple classification, joins his wife, actress and producer Trudie Styler to read from the letters between Robert and Clara. Their story, narrated by Sir Derek Jacobi, is illustrated and interwoven with music composed by Robert – whose spirit is embodied by pianist Iain Burnside, baritone Simon Keenlyside and violinist Sergej Krylov – and by Clara, who is evoked by pianist Natasha Paremski, soprano Rebecca Evans, and cellist Natalie Clein. This subtle and moving piece, a fusion of recital and drama, was devised by the stage director and writer John Caird. His credits include Hamlet and Candide at the National Theatre, Les Misérables and Nicholas Nickleby with Trevor Nunn, and Don Carlos for Welsh National Opera.
“A performance like this is a personal journey,” Sting explains. “You’re forced to share very private thoughts and make them public, and that creates a tension. This love story – the relationship and the tragedy – provides a great introduction for people who don’t normally listen to classical music. Hearing the Schumanns’ music at the same time as telling their story is a very intimate, engaging and emotional experience.”
Love began to blossom between Robert Schumann (1810-56) and Clara Wieck (1819-90) when she was a teenager and he was the student of her father, Friedrich Wieck, who made every effort to impede the relationship. She was one of the 19th century’s greatest pianists and herself a composer of note. After a legal battle with her father the couple finally married in 1840. In the 1850s their happiness became compromised by Robert’s increasing mental instability, which resulted in a suicide attempt in 1854; he died in an asylum in 1856. Clara, who lived for another 40 years, devoted her considerable energies to propagating her husband’s music, which is at its greatest in his intimate works for piano, voice and chamber ensemble.
“Twin Spirits tells a great human drama, irrespective of the fact that it’s about two great musicians,” says director John Caird. “It makes us think about love, marriage, relationships, pain, illness and how they influence art and life. Robert and Clara's chamber music was almost like a diary and listening to it you feel you are looking into the pages of something deeply personal.”
Twin Spirits was recorded before a small audience in a studio space at London’s Royal Opera House shortly before Christmas 2007. All the artists involved donated their talent and time so that everyone buying a copy will be supporting the important work of the Royal Opera House Education Program which provides opportunities for some 90,000 people annually to engage with opera, music and dance. These projects reach people of all ages and backgrounds, including the isolated and elderly, the socially deprived, disabled adults and children, young offenders and for these people they have a very significant and positive impact. The Royal Opera House’s work helps them to become enthusiastic and motivated, learn self-respect, discover the potential within themselves and develop a team spirit. For every performance on the world-famous stage, at least twice as many educational activities are taking place and this work is a vital part of the Royal Opera House’s mission.
“When we started on this adventure with Twin Spirits,” adds Trudie Styler, “I was profoundly moved by the richness and power of the narrative. The passion of Robert and Clara’s love transcends the ages. It is a wonderful and moving story which I believe remains fascinating and relevant to today's world.”
The original performance of Twin Spirits took place in June 2005, also at the Royal Opera House. Other charity performances took place at Salisbury Cathedral (to benefit the Salisbury Cathedral Girl Choristers), the New Victory Theatre in New York (to benefit Broadway Cares – Equity Fights Aids) and, at the Prince of Wales’ invitation, Windsor Castle (to benefit the Royal Opera House Foundation, and Soil Association). Among other performers who have participated alongside Sting and Trudie are actors Sir Ian McKellen, Charles Dance, and Jonathan Pryce and violinists Vasko Vassilev and Joshua Bell.