Husband and wife Sting and Trudie Styler passionately portrayed the love of husband and wife Robert Schumann and Clara Wieck at a performance of “Twin Spirits” in the Allen Room of Rose Hall at Jazz at Lincoln Center Wednesday night.
The musical and theatrical show, which was first performed five years ago, centers on letters written by Schumann (read by Sting) and Wieck (read by Styler) that chronicle a budding love affair and the eventual marriage of the German composer to the pianist during the first half of the 19th century — and Schumann’s eventual decline into madness after the early deaths of his contemporaries. The show has been performed several times in the U.S. and the U.K., including at Windsor Castle for Prince Charles.
“It’s always a moving piece. The story is very affecting,” Sting said during an interview at a reception following the show. “People are always…It’s the same result, people are crying. And then they want to go and listen to the music of Schumann again — both Clara and Robert. So it’s been a success.”
“They were created originally to raise funds for London’s Royal Opera House,” Styler said of the “Twin Spirits” shows. “So Sting and I did what I thought would be a one-off, but it was a hit, so we got asked to do it five more times. We did it four years ago at The New Victory Theater, with Jonathan Pryce narrating. So this is our second time in New York. David Strathairn [was] our narrator, but Ian McKellen has [narrated] it more than anyone else.”
Styler noted that John Caird, with whom she was in the Royal Shakespeare Company, devised and directed “Twin Spirits.” Caird conceived the production with longtime friends Sting and Styler in mind.
Wednesday’s show, which was presented by Culture Project, celebrated Schumann’s 200th birthday, and a percentage of the evening’s proceeds are to benefit the Music Unites Youth Choir.
As the performers, including violinist Joshua Bell, cellist Nina Kotova, pianists Natasha Paremski and Jeremy Denk, baritone Nathan Gunn and soprano Camille Zamora took their final bows, “surprise” guest New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took the stage.
“Sting and Trudie, or should I say Robert and Clara, thank you for a wonderful performance,” he said. “The audience was spellbound. I’m just annoyed because I wasn’t scheduled to be the leading man.”
He went on to praise Sting and Styler for providing $1 million in funds to help the city plant 1 million trees.
“I thought it was spectacular,” Bloomberg said of the show in an interview afterward. “I’d love to be the dashing young man in all of these things but nobody ever asks me to do that, unfortunately.”
Sting, discussing his thoughts on the evening’s performance, joked that, “No one asked for their money back yet, well maybe one or two, but you know…”
When asked about what other musical projects he is working on and what he’s planning for the summer, he responded, “I have this job where I sing for money. Yeah. I do it quite well actually.
“I’m touring with the Royal Philharmonic. We’re doing my songs, a three-hour show. We’re playing here at the [Metropolitan Opera House] on July 13th and 14th, so we’re looking forward to that.”
But, on the subject of another reunion tour by The Police, he asked, “Why would you want to see it again?”
As for Styler, who packed her bags after the performance for a trip home to London, “I will board a plane to the Ischia Film Festival where Channing Tatum, Shia LaBeouf and I have been invited to the fifth [anniversary] of the shooting of ‘A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints.’ It’s become a cult classic because it was the jumping off point for those actors.”
She said that even though fashion and beauty are “not what I do, really, I look after myself fashion wise and beauty wise with clothes and skin care.” She did note, however, of her most recent fashion preferences: “I [am] wearing a Roland Mouret dress,” which the designer created for the Wednesday performance. “I’ve been putting on an acting hat a little this year,” added Styler, who features in a Paul Haggis film with Russell Crowe called “The Next Three Days,” out in November, as well as a Jackie Collins TV movie shot in Paris called “Paris Connections.”
“I have a lot of movie producing on the slate, but nothing in production. Everything is in development. I have five irons in the fire.”
Styler is also involved in health and wellness projects, having released a DVD called “Trudie Styler’s Warrior Yoga DVD.” “I’ve been putting out DVDs for fitness and health — a series [about] yoga, Pilates, cardio, ballet as exercise — exploring different ways of moving the body and espousing healthy eating.”