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New York | 2h 0m | Already closed

Maestro (Ensemble for the Romantic Century)

From 10 critic and 65 member reviews
Members say: Slow, Ambitious, Disappointing, Absorbing, Entertaining

About the show

Ensemble for the Romantic Century brings to life the story of conductor Arturo Toscanini who bravely opposed Fascism in Italy and America, in this solo drama with music starring John Noble. More…

Toscanini refusal to perform in Italy and Germany, and his trips to Palestine to conduct an orchestra made up of Jewish refugees made headlines around the world. Drawing on his passionate letters to his lover, the young Italian pianist Ada Mainardi, along with music by his contemporaries, this theatrical experience shows us that even during one of the darkest chapters in human history, an artist’s voice can be heard.

2h 0m | Already closed | The Duke on 42nd Street (Midtown W)

Theater Pizzazz

“The Ensemble for the Romantic Century’s production of ‘Maestro’ aptly highlights all...central components of Toscanini’s brilliant artistry...The integration of the concert level performances by the amazing musicians and the solo performance by Noble who inhabits Toscanini...makes for an unparalleled memorable evening which will thrill you to your core...Just gobsmacking...A breathtakingly beautiful remembrance of a time and artist we must never forget.” Full Review

Front Row Center

“A music lovers’ delight, the play uses world class musicians, visual art and narrative to explore the Maestro’s life...The scenes are cleverly designed to follow the world-renowned conductor...The string quartet utilized in the play effectively conveyed the Maestro’s passion and suffering...The Maestro’s passion for music is encapsulated in every nuance of the play...’Maestro’ reminds us the power we all have, and the difference an individual can make.” Full Review

New York Stage Review

"The whole is even more a treat when the music is inserted...Li’s reading of Wagner’s 'Liebestod' in the Liszt version is worth the price of admission...Considered from a strictly dramatic perspective, 'Maestro' leaves something to be desired. Considered from a musically dramatic perspective, Maestro is completely satisfying, particularly for theater patrons so devoted to that pursuit that they don’t get to concert halls regularly enough." Full Review


"The storyline may not fully satisfy all playgoers. It is largely episodic, and the main dramatic conflict is a political one. Toscanini was appalled by the rise of fascism in Italy, in the person of the brutal Benito Mussolini. In the early 1930's, he refused to conduct the fascist anthem, and he turned down Adolf Hitler's request that he conduct at the Bayreuth music festival. Eventually, he fled Europe and resettled in the United States, living in Riverdale, New York, where he died in 1957." Full Review

Motherhood Later

"The artistic choice of addressing the audience in this manner brings home Toscanini’s temperament, but felt unpleasant, which admittedly, may have been the point...The best part of 'Maestro' is the music. Each selected piece is brilliantly performed...Perhaps choosing to convey a man’s life mainly through his frustrated love letters diminishes the scope of a man, especially a man such as Arturo Toscanini. However, the music of 'Maestro,' is another story altogether." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"The actor playing Toscanini hasn’t a musical bone in his body...Within the first five minutes...I wanted out...Noble as Toscanini, is an unintelligible, one-dimensional, inconsistent actor...The play tries to subliminally equate the holocaust with the immigrants of today, which I find highly insulting...What does work is the brilliant chamber orchestra...Their playing is exquisite... Bravo however to the brilliant musicians and Bengali for his creative projections that are haunting and timely." Full Review


"When in one letter, Toscanini reveals an amusing anecdote about his father - and ultimately his own conception - you wonder why Wolf thought we wouldn't want to know much more his personal life. After all, Toscanini lived until he was nearly 90, had numerous musical accomplishments, and knew many people, important and otherwise. Unquestionably, his hatred of dictators was a large factor in his life, but it shouldn't be his defining characteristic." Full Review

Theater News Online

“The cheese-fest that is ‘Maestro’ represents a good concert smarmified...Toscanini unfortunately – and unfairly – comes across a braggart with regard to his admirable antifascist activism...The script’s insistent focus on the erotic noodlings of a randy old goat does not lend itself to originality, much less profundity. Classical concertgoers who require a special sauce might find this overheated stew palatable. At least it provides a showcase for a cadre of skilled musicians.” Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

"Unfortunately, the result here is a disjointed presentation that lacks the cohesive flow of a biographical drama, a traditional full-length concert, or even an academic lecture...'Maestro' is most successful in its contrast between the expressive beauty and power of the music and the ugliness of bigotry and war, in the creative versus the destructive behavior of humankind. In essence, it is more effective as a moralizing mood piece than a narrative." Full Review

The New York Times

"Even that dry description is more exciting than what Ms. Wolf and her director, Donald T. Sanders, put onstage. The text is a clip job, consisting almost entirely of excerpts from Toscanini’s letters and other documentary bric-a-brac. As all of it comes from his point of view, we have no way to evaluate its validity — and the play has no way to spark any drama...The interludes add nothing to the story; indeed, they actively subtract from it by suggesting an overly literal link." Full Review

Absorbing, Intelligent, Relevant, Slow, Entertaining

See it if You like classical music and are interested in the life of Arturo Toscanini.

Don't see it if You don’t care for classical music or biographical/historical shows.

Also I enjoyed this show because it was as if I were at a classical concert... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Great projections, Glorious music

See it if If you like classical music played by very talented young musicians and if it doesn't bother you that the music bears little in the plot.

Don't see it if you really want to know something about Toscanini or if you'd like to see the actor playing him actually have some idea how to conduct music

Enchanting, Quirky, Disappointing, Slow, Great live music. script not great

See it if You love classical music and enjoy hearing live performers.

Don't see it if THe script is lacking and the main actor overacts. If you can get a cheap ticket, go.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Disappointing, Great musicians

See it if you want to see a good performance, but ineffective play. The ensemble of musicians are wonderful and John Noble plays Toscanini well.

Don't see it if you don't like classical music. There are more music scenes than dialogue. Writing not challenging enough to take advantage of great actor.

Disappointing, Lost opportunity, Great music acoustically well heard, Flat lead performance, More of a concert

See it if You want to hear some Romantic music played beautifully.

Don't see it if your main motivation is to learn something of feel something for Toscanini.

Also I closed my eyes to listen to the elegant performances of live music. ... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant

See it if Well-told, interesting synopsis of Toscanini's life coupled with marvelous music in the hands of wonderful musicians especially the pianist.

Don't see it if The music, while beautiful, did not always add to or move the story along. If you're not interested in history or biography.

Slow, Touching, Beautiful music

See it if you enjoy classical music. Story and acting are ok but nothing special. It rambles but is interesting to a degree

Don't see it if you are looking for a thorough, well paced bio play.This drags. Too much music, too little story.

Indulgent, Great music, Fluffy, Good acting

See it if you like classical music (more concert than play), you are interested in Toscanini or in Nazi history and its effects on Italian citizens.

Don't see it if you expect a plays and are not interested in a musical concert or you are sensitive to Italian Nazi history and its effects.

Ambitious, Disappointing, Slow, Great music, Missed opportunity

See it if You want to hear chamber music you likely haven't heard before, exquisitely played; you like an impressionist piece of multimedia theater

Don't see it if You want a linear plot (or any plot), you actually want to learn about Toscanini and what made him great

Clever, Thought-provoking, Great staging, Great musicians, Not for everyone

See it if You enjoy classical music and a one-man show.

Don't see it if You want rapid-fire dialog.

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Great staging, Stellar music

See it if you are interested in Arturo Toscanini and his times, his strong anti-Fascism, or if you love chamber music. All musicians are virtuosos!

Don't see it if you don't like classical music (there is quite a bit in this performance) or don't like plays about historic events and people/musicians.

Also Maestro was a masterful mixture of historic film, music & acting: We r... Read more Read less

During previews
Absorbing, Masterful, Must see, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if You want a wonderful theatre experience. Nearly flawless! Speaker system issues. A great history lesson you probably didn’t get in school

Don't see it if I cannot think of a reason. Live music. Rhapsody in Blue is surprisingly super. It’s music history as well as a history lesson. Love if it!

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Masterful, Great staging

See it if You wish to luxuriate in majestic arrangements by uber-talented musicians

Don't see it if You want to hear every word

Also Noble is excellent but his underplaying undercuts lucidity. Never mind... Read more Read less

During previews
Clever, Entertaining, Surprising

See it if A well integrated mix of good acting, beautiful classical music, history, and well designed supplemental film and graphics.

Don't see it if You prefer large casts, rather than a one man show.

During previews
Absorbing, Slow, Entertaining, Great and beautiful music

See it if If you love live classical music and want to see amazing musicians.

Don't see it if You do not like classical music. One man performance.

Also The live classical music is amazing. The story line could have been be... Read more Read less

During previews
Great acting, Must see, Entertaining

See it if You like good chamber music and a good actor.

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

During previews
Absorbing, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if Appreciate great Chamber music

Don't see it if Don’t like Chamber music

During previews
Absorbing, Enchanting, Intelligent, Masterful, Entertaining

See it if John Noble is engaging as Toscanini.An excellent quartet plays classical music & a lovely Rhapsody in Blue.Newsreels add historical context.

Don't see it if If you are not a fan of history . Not much to dislike. It was a memorable evening of music and history. Relax and enjoy!

During previews
Ambitious, Enchanting, Relevant, Stellar musicians!

See it if you love the Arts, reknowned musicians, classical music, audio/visual arts, art deco style, history and Toscanini. Feast for the senses.

Don't see it if closed off to classical music, WWII, Facism, Nazis, the axis of steele, the plight of the Jews or the Italian maestro who railed against it.

Also The musical performances, alone, are worth more than the ticket price.... Read more Read less

During previews
Absorbing, Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, Glorious

See it if If you love classical music and chamber music you'll enjoy this show enormously.

Don't see it if you expect a story with a message and do not appreciate classical music.

During previews
Clever, Great staging

See it if You love great music and history portrayed in the class ntext of toscanni’s life.

Don't see it if You have no appreciation for classical music or history

During previews
Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Resonant, Great music

See it if You enjoy non-traditional storytelling. You like classical music. You have some familiarity w/Toscanini. You want great musical performances

Don't see it if You prefer more dialogue-driven storytelling: this is a concert w/monologues delivered to the audience. You don't like classical music.

During previews
Ambitious, Clever, Great writing, Great staging, Great musical performances

See it if you enjoy a drama using music and video to tell the story of a very talented and courageous man, Arturo Toscanini.Very clever use of music.

Don't see it if you do not like classical music or are not interested in Toscanini's life.

Also This is in early previews. The actor John Noble did not project his vo... Read more Read less

During previews
Absorbing, Masterful, Profound, Relevant, Riveting

See it if You want to see someone fight fascism through music and nonviolence. Very relevant to today!

Don't see it if You do not like chamber music or nonlinear Dialogue.

During previews
Ambitious, Intelligent, Musically delightful

See it if you love music. Two violins, one viola, one cello, piano, trumpet play exquisitely. That alone is enough to enjoy this show.

Don't see it if you get don't want live classical music. The book of the show disappointing as is the mumbling of the single character who is Toscanini.

Also The background projections (videos and stills) are very interesting. A... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (4)