Already closed | 0h 55m | Soho/Tribeca

Symphonie Fantastique

From 68 member  reviews
Members say: Enchanting, Clever, Delightful, Absorbing, Quirky

About the show

Renowned puppet artist Basil Twist returns to HERE with a revival of his 1998 boundary-breaking response to Berlioz’s 1830 'Symphonie Fantastique,' which takes place in the most unlikely of places - a 1,000-gallon water tank. More…

Five unseen puppeteers swirl countless pieces of fabrics, feathers, fishing lures, flashlights, glitter, dyes, plastic, vinyl and bubbles in all shapes and sizes, creating a dream-like world of imagination and surreal storytelling. For the first time in New York, 'Symphonie Fantastique' features live piano accompaniment by Christopher O'Riley.

Member Reviews (68)


Enchanting, Clever, Delightful, Absorbing, Quirky
Avg Score

Enchanting, Delightful, Clever, Entertaining, Mesmerizing

See it if You want to see a short show, no plot, just beautiful free form underwater puppetry. Perfect for a stoner! Lovely piano accompaniment.

Don't see it if If you expect some sort of plot or if you can’t be satisfied with fairly simple puppets. It’s gorgeous but seems rather small scale to me.

Enchanting, Masterful, Quirky, Exquisite, Refreshing

See it if Dreamy performance art. Creative combination of live music and underwater visuals.

Don't see it if Abstract art with no characters or story. I found my attention torn at times between the music & visuals.

Fascinating, Plotless, Great music, Luminous, Artful

See it if the idea of beautiful piano music (Berlioz) accompanied by a lush, colorful visual score of nearly abstract shapes in motion appeals to you.

Don't see it if you need some plot with your theater—there is none here.

Also While the music, a solo piano version of Berlioz’ “Symphonie Fantastiq... Read more Read less

Edgy, Overrated, Quirky, Slow, Clever

See it if you're a fan of Basil Twist & Berlioz's Symphony, want to see a wild concept realized, curious about puppetry used to make abstract images

Don't see it if you are expecting a traditional style puppet show, not a fan of the abstract, not into color and light spectacles or plotless shows

Also This show is both exquisite and frustrating at the same time. It is wo... Read more Read less

Clever, Disappointing, Fluffy

See it if Hypnotic aquatic fantasia of billowing colourful scarves. Live piano accompaniment. Stay after to see how it's done. (60 min.)

Don't see it if Not Basil's best. Didn't like it 20 years ago, still don't. Front loader delicate cycle in darkness; bonus of cramped uncomfortable setting.

Enchanting, Great staging, Slow, Overrated, Clever

See it if You love classical music and would be mesmerized by cool lighting and imaginative, abstract puppetry.

Don't see it if You fall asleep easily (it’s very soothing) or think you’re in for an evening of realistic, theatrical puppetry (it’s fabric in water).

Clever, Entertaining, Quirky, Refreshing

See it if you like unusual setting of music. Sit close so you can see what happens in the tank of water. Nice visual effects.

Don't see it if you like something with a plot. This is music and action in a tank of water.

Also This is not one of my favorite pieces of music. I had just heard it a ... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Great staging, Masterful

See it if Fun to watch the 55 min show with shapes moving around w/man playing piano. Take the free backstage tour afterward to see how it's all done!

Don't see it if You don't like walking backstage to spoil the "magic" of how this was done (but this was a really cool tour: line moves quickly!)

Boring, Repetitive, Disappointing, Snoozy

See it if Love the idea of looking at colors & fabric swirling in H2O while Berlioz is being played. Some audience members were enchanted. Not me.

Don't see it if Berlioz bores you & don't want to hear a muddled, muffled piano version of same. You want the visuals to bear some semblance to the music.

Also The NYT (and most others) gave this such a rave review. I thought I kn... Read more Read less

Clever, Delightful, A singular labor of love, but not everyone will think it’s a worthwhile labor, Unique, Small-scale

See it if It's like ballet without dancers—the movement is there, just not the bodies. Visual interpretations of music, small-scale practical effects.

Don't see it if it wasn’t on your radar to begin with, you don’t like contemporary (plotless) ballet, abstract art. Can all be replaced w/ digital effects.

Also Enjoyed it but also think skeptics shouldn’t be persuaded to go. It’s ... Read more Read less

Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, Masterful, Absorbing

See it if you like performance art and want to experience the masterful underwater puppetry accompanied by terrific piano. Visually stunning.

Don't see it if you're looking for a play or musical, or any type of narrative.

Also Stay for a short backstage tour after where the puppeteers show you ho... Read more Read less

Enchanting, Exquisite, Masterful, Quirky, Clever

See it if you like puppetry and classical music. Words don't do this show justice, the visuals are so creative.

Don't see it if you expect a story and human like puppets.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Quirky, Riveting, Masterful

See it if love music & visual art even if you usually don't like puppet shows - the puppets here are wonderful fabrics, feathers; stage is a fish tank

Don't see it if if you need dialogue or a story and won't be carried away by just watching the visual display while listening to Berlioz being played live

Also If I didn't occasionally see the strings, I would think it was a compu... Read more Read less

Not my taste, Ambitious, Slow

See it if Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique played assertively on a piano while non-representational puppetry in what appears to be a large aquarium is..

Don't see it if performed for 55 minutes. Couldn't keep my eyes open, but others seemed to love it.

Clever, Enchanting, Artsy

See it if you can enjoy lovely music and mesmerizing visual effects without plot or story.

Don't see it if you need a plot or lyrics with your music.

Also Take the back stage tour, which is usually offered. It will enhance yo... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Delightful, Enchanting, Great staging, Quirky

See it if You want to spend an hour letting your imagination go a real time Fantasia

Don't see it if You don't care for classical music or modern puppetry

Delightful, Enchanting

See it if You enjoy Fantasia.

Don't see it if You want something with action or a narrative.

Ambitious, Clever, Delightful, Intelligent, Confusing

See it if You're especially fond of Berlioz and the Symphonie Fantastique's melodramatic roil, and you're familiar with Twist's advanced puppetry.

Don't see it if Romantic piano isn't your taste, however well played, or after an all-nighter; colors and shapes are hypnotic and at times lulling.

Also Heavily Romantic score aside, Twist and his puppeteers have created a ... Read more Read less

Enchanting, Confusing, Great music, Overrated, Beautiful

See it if You want to hear O’Riley playing Liszt playing Berlioz (the solo piano music is great). You like swirling, luscious, beautiful aesthetics.

Don't see it if You want a plot, meaning, or substance. The craft is impressive, the backstage tour was amazing, but the puppetry is purely eyecandy.

Absorbing, Enchanting, Masterful, Delightful, Exquisite

See it if Enjoy the movie Fantasia. You enjoy classical music. Want your perception of puppetry to be altered.

Don't see it if You dislike classical music. Don't care to see Berlioz's original story for the piece discarded entirely.

Also "What would an abstract puppet show be?" - Basil Twist... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Enchanting, Exquisite, Great staging

See it if You want to see an amazing puppet show with a water tank and piano music. The puppetry is great. The music is well played

Don't see it if You need actors, lines and songs.

Enchanting, Entertaining, Great staging, Masterful, Refreshing

See it if you are looking for a very unique and different type of show. I would say close your eyes and enjoy the music, but you will miss out..

Don't see it if you are looking for something with words. This is a visual experience.

Also I didn't know much about the show, but was really surprised how hypnot... Read more Read less

Clever, Entertaining, Ambitious, Profound

See it if The music is wonderful and visually it is fascinating. Also, it is 55 minutes long.

Don't see it if You don't care for classical music and must have words to tell a story.


See it if Love classical music or even a museum outing. Love water.

Don't see it if Hungry for narrative to justify a trip out.

Also Show is all wet. Just allow yourself to be immersed in the experience.... Read more Read less

Clever, Entertaining, Enchanting

See it if You want to hear great live piano classical music and be amazed at the visuals.

Don't see it if 55 minutes of visual and audio creativity is not your thing.

April 4th, 2018
"What you are watching never intrudes on or obscures what you are listening to; the discrete sensory experiences become, uncannily, one and the same...Mr. Twist’s rendering of Berlioz transcends such problems of representation. Instead, his terpsichorean feathers and fabrics hypnotize us into a s...
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April 4th, 2018
"Pure imagination...'Symphonie Fantastique' resists attempts to tack meaning onto its glorious unreason, making it still one of the most original things to come out of the New York theater two decades after it first emerged...With no characters, no story, and no recognizable symbols, 'Symphonie F...
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April 8th, 2018
"HERE, the adventurous performing and visual arts institution, has brought back Basil Twist's hit 'Symphonie Fantastique' which was created at HERE in 1998. 'Symphonie Fantastique' is probably Twist's most famous and in-demand work, although he has produced better work, most particularly in partn...
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April 5th, 2018
"Mr. O’Reily is a masterful performer, but I still missed the complex quality of sound required to experience the full effect of the symphony...The production does, however, preserve the essence of 'Symphonie Fantastique,' specifically in its relentless experimental spirit...Every single technica...
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