Twin Spirits is a unique and intimate, live theatrical performance by a chamber ensemble of actors, singers and musicians, portraying the deep and ultimately tragic love between the composer Robert Schumann and his pianist wife Clara Wieck. In this intensely moving performance of words, song and music, the Schumanns' long separation, so formative an influence on their lives, is reflected in the division of the ensemble into male and female groups. Robert's letters to Clara are read by Sting and his songs sung by Simon Keenlyside, with accompaniments and instrumental music played by Iain Burnside and Sergej Krylov. Clara's letters to Robert are read by Trudie Styler and her songs sung by Rebecca Evans, with accompaniments and instrumental music played by Natalie Clein and Natasha Paremski. The narrator, Derek Jacobi, links together the letters and lyrics to complete the essential outline of the story. Conceived and directed by John Caird, Twin Spirits was first performed in June 2005 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London and has since been experienced only at private performances for charity by small audiences of all ages and interests, leaving them deeply touched and inspired.
Review from CLASSICfM
Twin Spirits portrays the life and love of Robert and Clara Schumann through readings of their surviving letters. These are read by Sting and Trudie Styler, with Derek Jacobi authoritatively filling in any gaps in the story. In one sense it's a static productions, with everyone seated throughout, but it's actually quite engrossing - perfectly paced and beautifully filmed. It's impossible not to emerge with both a true empathy for the Schumanns and a renewed or awakened interest in their music. The acting stays just the right side of luvviness, with Sting and Styler delivering strong, subtly believable performances. They're supported by beautifully executed interludes from a top line-up of soloists. This is tender, moving, well put together, and supplemented by an enlightening bonus DVD.
Review from Evening Standard by Louise Jury
Sting and his actress wife Trudie Styler have brought together a star-studded cast for a fundraising venture designed to introduce thousands to opera for the first time. The Police star reads letters from German composer Robert Schumann to musician Clara Wieck, played by Styler, in a film telling one of the most romantic stories in music. The couple eventually overcame Wieck's father's rejection and married in 1840. But Schumann went mad and died in 1856. Sir Derek Jacobi narrates and musicians including Simon Keenlyside, Iain Burnside and Natalie Clein perform work by Schumann and Wieck in the DVD, Twin Spirits, set for release next week to support the Royal Opera House's work with 90,000 young people a year who might not otherwise experience opera, music and dance. Styler said: "I hope it will help evolve opera into a form for everybody. Luciano Pavarotti introduced me to my first opera, Tosca. I thought this had to be for everybody, it was magnificent." Sting said: "This love story ? the relationship and the tragedy ? provides a great introduction for people who don't listen to classical music." The recital was thought up by the Countess of Chichester, a board member at the Royal Opera House and neighbour of Sting and Styler.