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Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart

From 12 critic and 30 member reviews
Members say: Entertaining, Absorbing, Enchanting, Intelligent, Ambitious

About the show

The Ensemble for the Romantic Century explores Tchaikovsky's unique relationship with his patroness in a theatrical production featuring Piano Trio in A minor and some of his most moving songs. More…

In a strange relationship that lasted fourteen years and that was conducted exclusively through letters, Tchaikovsky and his patroness Nadezhda von Meck were united through the invincible power of a disembodied love in which they both found refuge. Plagued with doubts about the greatness of his music, tormented by the fear of discovery of his homosexuality, and trapped in a marriage to a woman who was eventually committed to an insane asylum, Tchaikovsky found in von Meck an “invisible angel.”


"Chamber music has never been this sexy...Wolf has done a better job of making these letters dramatic than she did in 'Van Gogh's Ear'...It also helps to have two actors like Slotnick and Walker, who endow their body language with dynamic meaning during the extended musical passages...As in previous ERC shows, the musicians are the real knockout stars...Delightfully novel, completely unforgettable theatrical concert." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"The music in itself provides delight, thanks to the selections from the Tchaikovsky repertoire and excellent performances by a trio...What is particularly good about the program is that the story is just enough on which to base the music and provide a sketchy but intimate portrait...All of the ingredients are blended so smoothly that one can readily give oneself over to the mood established and maintained during the two acts and experience the joy of listening to a compelling concert." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"The audience hears the emotions expressed that Tchaikovsky and von Meck are only partially able to reveal. That the musicians are expert at their instruments means they prove Wolf’s implicit belief beyond questioning...Wolf may be making assumptions...As aided by the actors and musicians, under Donald T. Sanders’ direction—she’s goes a long way towards proving the familiar argument about how profoundly none but lonely hearts deal with their constricted experiences." Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

"Dancer Mantei ably executes a few numbers he choreographed for the postage-stamp size stage, but I was too concerned about the possibility of injury dancing in such a tight space to fully enjoy his contribution...The direction by Sanders is fluid...The very idea of playing it in sections and reading letters between variations in its second movement would normally enrage me, but somehow it works here...If you are a Tchaikovsky fan, you will find much to enjoy; if not, this is not for you." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"The Ensemble for the Romantic Century and its executive artistic director Eve Wolf come as close as they have in their three productions this season at successfully realizing a creative mission of bringing together multiple art forms into a singular dramatic concert format...Slotnick and Walker handle their roles with charm, grace, and flair...More importantly, they both lean in and listen to the interspersed performances of Tchaikovsky's music by a first-rate trio at center stage." Full Review

Musical Theater Review

“In between the pieces of text are several of Tchaikovsky’s chamber pieces and songs, certainly not his most familiar works, but thrilling to hear, especially the lengthy segments from his Piano Trio in A minor. With its rapturous lyricism and shattering crescendos, it is resplendently performed by three makes for great theatre simply to watch them...Against the show’s dramatic deficiencies, it is Tchaikovsky’s music which keeps you enthralled.” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"While von Meck is most effectively portrayed by Shorey Walker, she had far less with which to work than did her splendid male counterpart, Joey Slotnick...Donald T Sanders was the superb director...Daniel Mantei was the exquisite dancer...As to the music: Most of the choices were more fitting for a chamber concert at Juilliard than for a theatrical-musical biography of arguably Russia’s greatest and most versatile composer." Full Review


“A beautiful look at Tchaikovsky’s music and his deepest relationships, his passion and, yes, his loneliness...Deeply dramatic...A magnificently performed chamber music concert...Staggeringly good performance by the musicians, violinist Zyzak, pianist Ji, and cellist Evan. This trio takes these works and wring them dry of every last minim of emotion...The difficult, beautiful songs! So feelingly sung, and so appropriately chosen, and so much the perfect last word.” Full Review

The New York Times

"A compelling play with music...Slotnick and Walker share the stage without actually talking directly to each other. The conceit largely works...Often the music interrupts the narrative flow, with Slotnick and Walker awkwardly trying to appear lost in deep thoughts...Despite these flaws, 'None but the Lonely Heart' makes us understand the enduring appeal of Tchaikovsky and von Meck’s story — and suggests their correspondence amounts to a spellbinding shared body of work." Full Review


"The rather unemotional (but elegant) reading of their letters by Joey Slotnick as Tchaikovsky and Shorey Walker as Mme. Von Meck in period costume...(and looking exactly like photographs of the two) is a shorthand for their relationships as we get only snippets of what was a 1,200 letter correspondence, leaving tremendous gaps in chronology. While Tchaikovsky refers to his 'secret' (i.e. his homosexuality) in his letters to her, he never actually tells her this defining trait in his life." Full Review

Theater Life

"Will be prized by aficionados of classical music…A play…only by the loosest definition, at least three quarters of its two acts being a concert by three remarkably gifted musicians… Tchaikovsky and von Meck act out their letters…by looking anywhere but at each other, since the essence of their relationship was that they never actually met…With so much…virtuosity on display, flowery words spoken by merely ordinary actors are bound to sound more banal than when read silently to oneself." Full Review

Woman Around Town

"Whatever caveats I have about the production itself, musicians Zyzak, Evan, and Ji are more than worth the price of a ticket. The first rate, symbiotic trio...interpret Tchaikovsky with power, nuance, vigor, and comprehension...Every minute enhances. Transporting...Disconnected facial expression is the tip of the iceberg in this widely misdirected piece...The two matter-of-fact performances sit oddly in a production filled with theatrical sturm und drang." Full Review

Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Absorbing

See it if Small and elegant, a story that touches the heart. Incredible musicians.

Don't see it if No reason not to.

Riveting, Masterful, Exquisite

See it if You are moved by Tchaikovsky or are curious about him and his work. This is a gorgeous concert wrapped around a tragic tale of homophobia.

Don't see it if You dislike classical music, great young musicians, a fine tenor voice, an excellent ballet dancer, good acting and a tragic tale.

Enlightening, Unique blend of chamber music and theatre, Remarkable musicians

See it if You love classical music, are curious about the life and story of Tchaikovsky, and enjoy salon-like theatrical experiences

Don't see it if You prefer action-filled drama or do not like chamber music

Masterful, Intelligent, Must see, Profound, Romantic

See it if you love fine musicianship, singing, dancing, acting, staging, costumes, writing,...

Don't see it if you dislike all of the above.

Also as enchanting and entertaining an evening as I have experienced in qui... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Entertaining, Clever

See it if you enjoy classical music with very talented musicians

Don't see it if prefer cheerful musicals with song and dance

Great acting, Must see, Thought-provoking, Enchanting, Absorbing

See it if you want to know more stories about Tchaikovsky and what affect his personality, and you want to enjoy some nice music, singing and dancing

Don't see it if you don't like Tchaikovsky or you prefer shows with large stage.

Emotional, Insightful, Intelligent, Poignant

See it if you would like to know more about Tchaikovsky and to hear many of his obscure pieces. Joey Slotnick is terrific in the title role.

Don't see it if You don't care about the composer, or if singing in Russian gets on your nerves. This piece was well worth the time and effort, however.

Educational, Great music, Entertaining

See it if You enjoy classical music and/or want to know about Tchaikovsky.

Don't see it if You do not enjoy classical music. The show was a combination of a concert and a play.

Exquisite, Profound, Ambitious, Delightful, Enchanting

See it if You want to see music, drama and dance in two acts. The music is great and thx tenor is a delight. Also the two actors reading do well

Don't see it if You want a play with actual musical numbers. If you want a play with an interacting script

Masterful, Entertaining, Clever, Intelligent, Enchanting

See it if Lovely concert within the historically based life of Tchaikovsky. Very talented cast of actors and musicians. A delightful evening.

Don't see it if Do no see if you are not a fan of classical musical.

Intelligent, Great singing, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if You are interested in an intriguing evening of music, dance, and storytelling within a Salon like setting. Fascinating facts revealed about

Don't see it if You dislike classical music. This is not your typical Broadway musical or drama

Also One of our better known classical virtuosos. The theater is small and ... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Creative, Absorbing, Quirky, Great musicians

See it if you love the music of Tchaikovsky and want to learn more about his biography through his correspondence with Nadezhda von Meck.

Don't see it if you don't like classical music and don't like epistolary plays.

Also The young musicians are all wonderful. Hearing them play is worth the ... Read more Read less

Disappointing, Indulgent, Entertaining, Enchanting, Clever

See it if you don't know about the relationship btw Tchaikovsky and von Meck and you love classical music

Don't see it if long segments of classical music bore you or if you want real emotional depth

Also I really wanted to love this show and I did in fact love the music: br... Read more Read less

Great singing, Entertaining, Clever, Absorbing

See it if A show that covers many different ARTs.

Don't see it if Not in orchestrations, vocalizations or dance.

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Romantic, Entertaining, Enchanting

See it if You like a music with a play as opposed to a play with music.

Don't see it if If you don't like classical music, which is most of the play with some story added.

Romantic, Slow

See it if Enjoy chamber music and wish to have it presented in a different format by having a play written around it. Still absorbing letters.

Don't see it if Need a full story. The music does overshadow any acting/dialogue.

Repetitive, Talented performers, Interesting

See it if you like chamber music concerts. This is one, based on Tchaikovsky's Trio and few other works. In between some actors read letters. Gets old

Don't see it if you're not into classical music, expect more of a traditional play, or dislike 'educational' theater.

Slow, Concert with a play, Great music

See it if you enjoy classical music and watch to see Tchaikovsky's work performed by three passionate musicians

Don't see it if you are expecting a play about Tchaikovsky's life. This felt more like a variation of "Love Letters" in between classical music pieces.

Also This show was not what I expected it to be and therefore left me feeli... Read more Read less

Profound, Enchanting, Intelligent, Masterful, Resonant

See it if you are a fan of classical music.

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

During previews
Enchanting, Entertaining, Delightful

See it if you love brilliant young musicians and one lovely dancer.

Don't see it if If you are not a fan of Tchaikovsky.

During previews
Great staging, Great acting, Entertaining, Ambitious

See it if you are interested one of the oddest relationships in musical history, between Tchaikovsky and his patroness, von Meck. Absolutely wonderful

Don't see it if you do not like classical music.

Also This is the third in a series, the other two about Van Gogh and Mary S... Read more Read less

During previews
Innovative, Clever, Great music, Absorbing, Ambitious

See it if you like classical music live on stage, curious about Tchaikovsky & his patroness, enjoy mix of music, solo dance, solo voice & play

Don't see it if don't like plays pausing for classical music interlude or based on letters between parties no interest in composer's chamber music or songs

Also The performance by the onstage chamber trio is remarkable. This unusua... Read more Read less

During previews
Wonderfull classical music

See it if you like a classical music. It is a play with music. Amid the staging I felt I was in 19th century salon listening to music.

Don't see it if If you do not like classical music.

During previews
Refreshing, Intelligent, Entertaining, Absorbing, Great singing

See it if You love classical music. Excellent musicians.

Don't see it if You dislike classical music.

During previews
Patchy acting, Romantic, Sublime, Enchanting, Delightful

See it if u want an enthralling perspective on the torment & artistry behind a musical genius and the essential relationship with his financial patron

Don't see it if you're bothered that weak lackluster acting, especially by male lead, doesn't hold up to otherwise splendid young musical talent and passion

Cast & Creatives (11)