A lady is dressed in nineteenth-century garb as we walk into the farmhouse where "memory sequences" are being filmed between wooden beams and terracotta tiles. Hershey Felder’s latest online-only performance, A Paris Love Story, featuring the music of Claude Debussy, recalls deeply personal memories of the performer losing his mother at a young age and his discovery of Debussy’s music, balanced with bawdy tales of the French composer’s amorous conquests. The show will be broadcast live from Florence on November 22.
On set in Felder’s home in the Tuscan hills, the mood is jovial. The composer’s first love Marie Vasnier is played by his neighbor Anki (“I just call the neighbors and make a movie!” exclaims Hershey), the dress she’s wearing comes from the Tedavi production house in Florence, and the crew is all-Italian. It’s a slow process of retakes, playback and adjustment for scenes that will be interspersed throughout the live performance. In between scenes, we chat about the state of the world and the barbecued ribs Hershey’s somehow found the time to make for a crew of ten for lunch, keeping away from the window to allow in the autumnal light, moving coats and bags, and staying schtum as soon as the director announces “Motore!” (the Italian instruction to turn on the camera) and “Ciak!” (action!). Watching, waiting and preparing, everyone except the performers is wearing a mask and is keenly and respectfully aware of the others around them.
There won’t be a dry eye in the house, wherever you’re tuning in from around the world, when Hershey performs the soulful “Clair de Lune” before taking us on an upbeat and sentimental journey around Paris in the 1800s.
Hershey Felder as Claude Debussy: A Paris Love Story, which will be broadcast live from his Florence home on November 22 in an evening timeslot for his dedicated North American audience. Europeans won’t miss out on the extravaganza as the show can be watched on demand between November 23-29 after the live transmission. A percent of the ticket sales will be generously donated to The Florentine.