Joe’s Pub, the cabaret in Manhattan, will pay tribute to a master of tango music with an unusual musical biography of composer Astor Piazzolla that boasts some non-traditional casting. It will be presented for two performances, August 5 and 6.
That’s Not Tango—Astor Piazzolla, A Life In Music will trace composer Piazzolla’s life and career (1921-1992) with a cast led by a woman, Lesley Karsten, in the title role. Karsten also conceived the show and co-wrote its libretto with Stephen Wadsworth (A Quiet Place).
Piazzolla is regarded as father of the musical style known as Nuevo Tango. “I hope people develop a personal relationship with the music and understand what it meant to him,” said Karsten, who discovered the composer when she was asked to read Latin American poetry while a violinist performed Piazzolla in Fairfield, Connecticut, several years ago. “I want audiences to experience the man behind its urgency and power.”
Born in Argentina, Piazzolla was raised in Greenwich Village not far from where the show is taking place. He discovered tango music through his father’s record collection. His family returned to Argentina when he was 15, and he launched his musical career.
The show, which creators say has changed considerably since it premiered in New York for a limited run in 2016, will incorporate more music performed by multi Grammy-nominated violinist Nick Danielson, pianist Brandt Fredriksen, and JP Jofre, who plays the bandoneon, the elaborate accordion associated with the tango.
“We've moved from a more straightforward narrative of the facts of his life into an exploration of the inner workings of the man,” Karsten said. “The premise is simple. He’s dead, hates it and returns because he has unfinished business...with himself. He has regrets, struggles with isolation, memories of love lost. He gave what he had to give—and the music is astonishing— but he needs to set the record straight. There’s a price to be paid for immortality.”
Tickets, at $30, can be ordered online at Joe’s Pub or in person at the Public Theater box office at 425 Lafayette Street in Manhattan.