New York | 2h 20m | Already closed

Death for Five Voices

From 10 critic and 12 member reviews
Members say: Ambitious, Absorbing, Disappointing, Entertaining, Original

About the show

Prospect Theater Company presents a musical that celebrates the dark harmonies of Renaissance composer—and murderer!—Carlo Gesualdo. More…

Carlo Gesualdo was a groundbreaking composer during the late Renaissance. He was also a vicious murderer who killed his wife and her lover. With a score that incorporates themes from Gesualdo's music, this tuner investigates how the composer's creative life and brutal actions intersected. 'Death for Five Voices' blends period style music with contemporary theater storytelling to create a compelling portrait of a troubled artist, living in an era when complex political and religious forces collided and changed our perceptions of the possibility of art.

Act Three - The Reviews

"Peter Mills is responsible for this magnificent, sweeping, and lush musical along with Cara Reichel, who worked with Mr. Mills on the book...The subject matter is perhaps an awkward choice, but when properly imagined on the stage, as Ms. Reichel and her more than capable company has done, is a majestic and breathtaking journey into the past...The result is nothing short of musical delight with a murderous twist...The entire superlative cast could not have been more pitch perfect." Full Review


"Magnetically complex...It's a fascinating blend of music theory and character development...The ensemble members sound beautiful singing choral pieces...While the lyrical cleverness Mills has displayed in past musicals is inappropriate here, his contrast of the way Gesualdo musically expresses himself with that of the world surrounding him is often thrilling...Daring in ambition, exciting in execution, 'Death for Five Voices,' deserves far more exposure than its current limited run." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"Even while weaving Gesualdo’s musical idiosyncrasies into his score, Mills has crafted a piece that is rooted in the American musical theater tradition...The music in this score may not be all of a piece, but Mills doesn’t let the stitches show. The cast is excellent...Director Reichel deftly moves the characters around Ann Bartek’s evocative set...Mills’ score is the main event here, and he seldom disappoints." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"Songwriter Peter Mills has long deserved to be far better known than he is...Much of the Mills-Reichel contrivances are quite beautiful...'Death for Five Voices' does go on longer than it needs to while making its macabre point, but without doubt it’s far enough off the beaten musicals track to be recommended." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Mills's most stirring, shocking, and boundary-pushing compositions...One can't help but wish that all of 'Five Voices' was at this level. But, too often, the narrative strength of the score is not supported by the libretto...This is a musical that is at war with itself. But considering that the best of what's here transcends what you'll find in any other new musical in town, that might just be a war worth waging...Even in this not-there-yet incarnation, it is thrillingly, theatrically alive." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"Though the music is beautiful and the staging by Cara Reichel haunting, the show never really goes anywhere. The characters are written one dimensionally and when they act out there seems to be hardly any reasoning...The cast is possessed with wonderful voices...If music that goes in interesting places and evokes a sense of mortality send you as they do me, this piece will at least deliver." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Because so much interest resides in the bloody conclusion, everything preceding it is bound to be anticlimactic. Even as the affair blooms, the stereotypical characters aren’t interesting enough to keep us in thrall...Moreover, the show’s few laughs don’t compensate for the lack of any humorous characters or songs...'Death for Five Voices' never escapes the specter of musty, nineteenth-century, costume tragedies about Renaissance lovers, like Francesca da Rimini." Full Review


"Mills and Reichel have sweetened and sanitized what likely was a cold-blooded honor killing…A solid, if uninspired, production. The seven singing actors handle both the polyphonic choral sections and their solo parts with operatic aplomb…The mystery of this production is why the authors have elected to depict in relatively anemic terms events that, in reality, outstripped in savagery and bloodthirstiness the revenge tragedies written by Gesualdo's contemporaries." Full Review

The New York Times

"It took nerve to write the new musical...But 'Death for Five Voices' is not one of their more successful efforts...Unfortunately, 'Death for Five Voices' has little feel for the period or the personalities. The vocabulary and the psychology are contemporary, the characterizations and plotting shallow. The writers mean to suggest a connection between the disturbing innovation of Gesualdo’s works and the dark cast of his mind, but they haven’t yet found a way to put these ideas in tune." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"We haven't had a real, honest-to-God floperetta in decades, but here comes 'Death for Five Voices,' which manages to be simultaneously stiff and overwrought: The narrative is filled with forbidden passions, acts of violence, and cynical maneuvers by the Catholic Church, and still it manages to be thoroughly dull...Reichel's production, marshalling a vocally gifted, but dramatically at sea, cast, does the material no favors...Overall, this is a sluggish, unconvincing evening." Full Review

Absorbing, Ambitious, Exquisite, Great singing, Intelligent

See it if Beautiful performance in an intimate theater with wonderful score by Peter Mills based on a real historical event.

Don't see it if You are looking for a contemporary musical. The score is rich and classically-inspired.

Ambitious, Great music, Masterful, Original, Absorbing

See it if you love great operatic music with a broadway flair, pitch-perfect singing, an ambitious book and terrific actors; like musical drama

Don't see it if you don't like long shows; don't like period pieces; don't like opera-like music

Ambitious, Original, Absorbing, Intelligent, Romantic

See it if This show is intriguing and beautifully sung; fascinating story and interesting staging.

Don't see it if If you prefer big splashy musicals, you won't like this.

Ambitious, Original, Romantic, Epic, Entertaining

See it if You appreciate wholly original musicals, or that rarest of shows, a musical based on history. Or if you like Peter Mills's exquisite music.

Don't see it if You want likable characters - they are all either terrible people, or (literally) too stupid to live.

Delightful, Entertaining, Enchanting

See it if you like great singing

Don't see it if you hate small theater productions

Ambitious, Romantic, Entertaining

See it if You liked "Passion"

Don't see it if You don't like classical music.

Good score, Lacking heart, Weak performers, Problematic female characters, Disappointing

See it if you want to hear a good score, mainly reminiscent of Lucy Simon but borrowing from many places. You like musicals about religion and/or art.

Don't see it if you like musicals about people. Carlo was erratic. Fabrizio was shallow. Older characters are Disney villains. Acting was distractingly weak

Great production values, At times the songs and delivery seemed too modern, Some very good performances, Story is depressing

See it if you love the Renaissance.

Don't see it if violence on stage bothers you.

Disappointing, Gorgeous music, Trite script, Uneven acting, Beautiful voices

See it if you love baroque music. The voices here are wonderful. And the music is rich.

Don't see it if you get bored easily with familiar story lines . . . although there are wonderful aspects of this production, the pieces don't add up.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Masterful

See it if Ingrossing

Don't see it if Intreging

Ambitious, Disappointing, Insipid, Slow

See it if you like really good music.

Don't see it if you don't like already existing plot lines

During previews
Inconsistent, Uninvolving, Imprecise, Ambitious, Tense

See it if you don't mind sitting through 2 hours of uninvolving drama to get to the 10 genuinely exciting minutes towards the end of the second act.

Don't see it if there are any other shows you're also interested in seeing.

Cast & Creatives (16)