A Pianist's Life at the Keyboard
An American performer takes on the flamboyant persona of Venezuela's Teresa Carreno
Carreno One-woman show starring Pamela Ross. Directed by Gene Frankel. At the Intar Theatre.
A CLASSICAL musical?
Yes, it is possible, when the subject of the musical is Teresa Carreno - the fiery turn-of-the-century Venezuelan pianist/composer who managed to charm Europe and the United States with her talent.
Carreno lived a life that was nothing less than scandalous in her day: four husbands (two of them brothers), seven children (one given up for adoption without Carreno's knowledge), and a never-ending schedule of continent hopping and concert tours.
American pianist/actress Pamela Ross stars as Teresa Carreno in a one-woman show here at the Intar Theater off-Broadway.
It's a genuine tour de force in which Ms. Ross tackles acting, piano playing, and performing in both Spanish and English. Does Ross pull it off?
You bet she does. She spins out the fascinating and often tragic story of Carreno's life as she sits at the piano, interspersing her monologues with brilliantly executed interpretations of Chopin, Liszt, Bach, Mendelssohn and others.
One of the most amazing things about the play is that Ross doesn't actually speak Spanish - and yet her delivery at the Spanish-language performances is practically flawless.
In a telephone interview, I asked her to explain this mystery to me.
She told me that when she was performing the play in English during the spring last year, ``A little gentleman came up from Venezuela to visit New York City and he looked up the theater directory of The New York Times and he saw ``Carreno'' and he said, oh my, our national musical heroine, it's got to be about her! So he called the Venezuelan Consulate who called me and said show up with your press kit, there's a guy here who wants to produce it in Caracas.''
SO Ross went to meet him, and he told her that his people would love to have her do the play in Venezuela - in Spanish, of course.
```Oh,' I said in my best English, `of course!''' said Ross.
Her run in New York would be finished in October, and they wanted the play to start in November in Caracas.
All the arrangements were made, and meanwhile, Ross says, ``I was in a state of purple panic. I said to myself, you're either very stupid, or you're very smart and you're going to do this.''
Ross quickly arranged for four different tutors to teach her to pronounce Spanish. Then she found someone to translate the play. When all the wrinkles were ironed out ``... I memorized it. I spent eight hours a day for six weeks, listening to myself on tapes, drilling with other people, and I did it!''