A film crew is recording scenes in an empty piazzale Michelangelo on a rare cloudless day in December. Once a common sight, the few locals are captivated by the act of creativity in a semi-deserted Florence. Hershey Felder, the Canada-born actor and pianist with a Florentine soul, turns slowly away from the superlative cityscape to look intimately into the lens in his latest role as Tchaikovsky.
The Russian composer was fond of Florence and visited several times, including an extended spell at Villa Bonciani in 1878, escaping a failing marriage in Russia, on the invitation of his patroness, Nadezhda von Meck, who was in residence at her nearby Villa Oppenheim, now luxury hotel Villa Cora. In a stroke of genius, Felder’s rendition of Tchaikovsky is actually filmed at Villa Bonciani, with additional scenes shot at the Bellini Museum on Florence's south side and the actor’s home in the Florentine hills. Famous for his one-man biopics, Felder makes an exception as friends from Florence’s international community make the occasional cameo, including actor Elia Nichols as the composer’s mother and The Florentine’s editor in chief, Helen Farrell, as Von Meck.
The movie, directed by Stefano de Carli, will be premiered in streaming on December 20.
Hershey Felder’s Tchaikovsky will premiere on December 20 in an evening timeslot for his dedicated North American audience (5pm Pacific, 7pm Central and 8pm Eastern time). Europeans won’t miss out on the extravaganza as the show can be watched on demand for a week after the live transmission. A percent of the ticket sales will be generously donated to The Florentine and US theaters.