On his Facebook page, Hershey Felder has been sharing some thoughts and photos as he and his team prepare for the LIVE filming. We've captured them in one place for you to enjoy!
From December 3, 2020:
What an Adventure!
With the broadcast of A PARIS LOVE STORY and DEBUSSY behind me, it is now time to focus on TCHAIKOVSKY.
But I cannot help but think about how exactly four weeks ago, our whole film crew was set to fly to Paris from Florence so that we could film and broadcast DEBUSSY live from Paris, and then, boom. Complete lockdown. The massive door shuttered with a hollow thud. Suddenly a “live” movie that was a dream come true became a puzzle of props, green-screens and simple and straightforward old-fashioned storytelling. Visual magic would just have to wait.
But with TCHAIKOVSKY there never was a plan to steal away to Moscow and St. Petersburg… because when things didn’t go all that well for Tchaikovsky at home, he found himself in a city that he called “the most beautiful city in the world!” - Florence. Right here where we are.
To bring Tchaikovsky to life, I would be able to simply foray out my front door, meander down a hill, walk in his footsteps, look with his eyes, and no doubt feel exactly how felt as he took in the magical city.
As some of you know, I have a monthly byline in the magnificent International Magazine THE FLORENTINE, whose genius of an Editor is the inimitable Helen Farrell. Helen is married to Giovanni Morandi, a 40 year old Florentine Artisan, capable of practically anything (and I am serious). They are a magical couple if there ever was one. While Helen is a Mancunian by birth, she is a Florentine by soul. Giovanni, on the other hand, lives in the same area in Florence where he was born forty years ago. Such is the effect Florence has on those who fall in love with her. Giovanni remembers when there was no main road by the Arno to reach his home. That came in when he was in his teens. It’s like being friends with living, breathing, history.
At any rate… Tchaikovsky, whether he was here in Florence, or anywhere for that matter, was a very serious letter writer. He took the time to report on what he saw, what he felt, and to Nadezhda von Meck, his Russian Heiress-Patroness, he even shared his deepest feelings. Their platonic love - and her financial support - lasted for fourteen years, throughout which the deal was that they were never to see one another face to face, for she believed that a man who composed such music was a perfect man, and she was intent on keeping him that way. (!)
Well, in 1878, having had a personal disaster at home in Russia, Tchaikovsky made his way to Florence for the second time. His Patroness also travelled to the magical city, for she had a villa on the Viale Dei Colli - the streets of the hills - the Villa Oppenheim, today called Villa Cora, a luxury hotel. She was ensconced there while she installed her charge, Tchaikovsky, just up the way at the Villa Bonciani. Tchaikovsky writes so magnificently in his letters about his life in Florence, to his family, to his friends, and even to his patroness just down the way, thanking her for the gift of peace and beauty she has bestowed upon him allowing him to live with magical Florence at his feet.
I knew the villa still existed, that it was not far from where I myself live, and I wondered if I somehow could find a way in, especially onto the terrace that overlooks the city - the terrace that Tchaikovsky spent paragraphs writing about, for so much happened for him there. Maybe, just maybe, I could set part of the story there…where the story actually happened. I mentioned this casually to Giovanni who helps with production, and before I know it, he has the name and contact of the owner, he has spoken to him and he tells me that the current owner would love to have us there and that he would be happy for us to film scenes where the scenes actually took place.
But how did Giovanni manage this?
Well, as he told me in his Florentine accented English, which is more Italian than Italian accented Florentine.... he simply went to the Villa’s main entrance, looked at who was listed, looked up the name, found the individual, and called. But then he mentioned the little project to his wife Helen the Editor.
Turns out, the man who owns the apartment that Tchaikovsky lived in had been a contributing writer to THE FLORENTINE and Helen knew exactly where and how to find him. So today, we went over to the house, and shot a “commercial” and where we will also shoot scenes, on exactly the spots that Tchaikovsky himself stood all those years ago, contemplating…
“The Most Beautiful City In the World."
From December 10, 2020
As has become tradition, on the first day of camera rehearsals and b-roll shooting for the upcoming broadcast - now, TCHAIKOVSKY on Sunday, December 20th - Here are shots from today's work. The Piazalle Michelangelo, where Tchaikovsky often stood gazing out at the city he called "The Most Beautiful City in The World!' Also from the Villa Bonciani standing where he stood, when he lived in the Villa in 1878. Then, exactly the view from his window, as he saw it, 142 years ago, as he composed "Suite no. 1." As Tchaikovsky often spoke of going down the hill into town, on the Lungarni, the Ponte Vecchio, Borgo San Jacopo, Piazza Tornabuoni - we decided to have a little fun while making sure that we were significantly distanced when my mask came off, and film sequences that will be used as part of "The Nutcracker." What a fun moment it was for Tchaikovsky when he discovered a remarkably old Pinocchio shop! He would have discovered that on one of his next visits to the Magical City - since Pinocchio was created in 1883. While the stage Director Trevor Hay and I, and the film director Stefano de Carli and his assistant Giacomo were running about town, the rest of the crew was on location on Lungarno Soderini where Tchaikovsky had been and where we will do much of the live music work in a 400 hundred year old Palazzo. Photographed there earlier in the day are Trevor Hay and Stefano De Carli, and as patrons have asked about the Italian director, for the first time, you have a photo of the man behind the mask. All in all, what a day of work. What a magical magical day, amid a frightening time. For a few moments, we were able to forget and dream. See you on December 20th - www.hersheyfelder.net