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God That's Good! Sweeney Wins the Emmy

"Sweeney Todd" New York Philharmonic

“The Worst Pies in London”? How about the best special program on TV — better than Beyoncé and Jay-Z and the Oscars?!

We are thrilled that the New York Philharmonic’s 2014 production of Sweeney Todd, telecast on Live From Lincoln Center and hosted by Audra McDonald (who also played The Beggar Woman), won the 2015 Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class Program.

We also congratulate Music Director Alan Gilbert and Emma Thompson for their nominations for Outstanding Music Direction and Outstanding Lead Actress In A Limited Series Or A Movie, respectively. They top the long list of those who played a role in this exciting victory, on stage and off. (Keep your fingers crossed for Emma; her category's winner will be announced this Sunday.) Congratulations and thanks to all!

Enjoy this look back at Emma Thompson as Mrs. Lovett.

(Photo: Chris Lee)

Sweeney Shows Range 21st-Century Orchestra Should Offer, Gilbert Tells Times

Alan Gilbert Conducts NY Philharmonic's  

Music Director Alan Gilbert was quoted in a March 26 article in The New York Times by David Belcher titled, "Musical or Opera? Stage Companies Are Drawing on Both Art Forms."

The article cited the Philharmonic's recent staged, full-orchestra production of Sweeney Todd in a discussion of the intersection between musical theater, opera, and symphony orchestras.

“‘Sweeney Todd’ is a great example of a piece that benefits enormously from being played by an orchestra onstage,” said Alan Gilbert, music director of the New York Philharmonic. “This is especially important today in an era where in the West End and Broadway you’re not always getting the effect of a full orchestra.”

Several of the musicals staged over the last decade by the New York Philharmonic have been broadcast on American television, including another Sondheim musical, “Company,” that starred Neil Patrick Harris, giving the Philharmonic an even larger profile and securing its reputation as an interpreter of American musicals (the recent “Sweeney Todd” will also air on television at a date still to be determined).

“Orchestras these days are called on to be more than just concert venues,” Mr. Gilbert said. “We are continuing to play Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, but the hope is to always expand our audience. It fits into a wider definition of what a philharmonic has to be in the 21st century.”

Critics Hail Alan Gilbert's Conducting of Sweeney Todd

Alan Gilbert Conducts NY Philharmonic's  

Alan Gilbert's way with a baton is at least as good as Emma Thompson's (playing Mrs. Lovett) with dough (see above).

Sweeney Todd was not the New York Philharmonic's first production of a musical theater work, but Gilbert is the first Philharmonic Music Director to conduct one.

Here's a selection of the reviews:

"Under Mr. Gilbert’s direction, the performance was remarkable for the clarity it brought to Jonathan Tunick’s sumptuous but delicately textured orchestrations. The merry piping of the woodwinds representing the sound of freedom to Johanna in 'Green Finch and Linnet Bird'; the darkly rippling strings that recur during repeated snatches of 'The Ballad of Sweeney Todd'; the terrifying bursts of brass that punctuate the show’s more violent moments: Such details can easily be blurred, but came through incisively here." — The New York Times

"Alan Gilbert has already shown that the Philharmonic can be the best opera company in town; now he’s put Broadway on notice, too." — New York

"As conductor and music director of the New York Philharmonic, Alan Gilbert has one of the best, most rarefied jobs in Manhattan. And on Wednesday night, after the Philharmonic's concert version of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, he proved he's having more fun than the rest of us. ...

"Looking out into the crowd, he spied Mr. Sondheim, then turning to Ms. [Emma] Thompson, he whispered in her ear: 'I'm going to go get him; do you want to come along?'

The two beamed as they ran off the stage and up the aisle (mowing down early departers clogging the path) to Mr. Sondheim, who they embraced and whisked to the stage." — The Wall Street Journal

“Conducted by Alan Gilbert, the orchestra sounded excellent, especially during the more chaotic moments like the second-act ‘City on Fire.’” — Playbill

"The glory that is the New York Philharmonic, playing Jonathan Tunick’s orchestration, makes you realize just how great this score is; a large chorus added to its grandeur. Bernadette Peters, Barbara Cook, and yes, Stephen Sondheim were in the audience (he was brought on stage for a curtain call). All seemed overjoyed by Gilbert’s reading and the superb work of the cast." — ClassicsToday.com

PHOTOS: Attend the Tale of Sweeney Todd

A bloody good time was had last night at the New York Philharmonic. The Spring Gala celebrated opening night of the Philharmonic’s staging of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s wickedly macabre musical thriller Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, with an all-star cast led by Bryn Terfel and Oscar winner Emma Thompson — “tonight is the most thrilling night of my professional career,” she said during brief remarks at the Gala dinner — along with the Orchestra performing the score, conducted by Music Director Alan Gilbert. The glitterati — Meryl Streep, Neil Patrick Harris, Bernadette Peters, and Governor Andrew Cuomo, to name a few — feted the production with the Philharmonic, its generous supporters, and even Sondheim himself at a festive cocktail reception and the Spring Gala dinner after the show. Relive the excitement.

Sweeney To Be Telecast on Live From Lincoln Center

Live From Lincoln Center NY Philharmonic 

The New York Philharmonic’s staged production of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, A Musical Thriller starring Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson, which opens tonight, will be nationally telecast on Live From Lincoln Center. The date isn’t set; we will let you know when it is.

Read the Playbill.com article.

Read the press release.

Attend the Tale

Sweeney Todd

This just in: next season the Philharmonic will present a staged production of Sondheim’s musical thriller Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Baritone Bryn Terfel will star in the title role, and Alan Gilbert conducts the Orchestra, March 5–8, 2014.

We know you’ll want to attend. Tickets go on sale to the general public August 18 at noon.

Meanwhile, here's a tasty bit to savor, and check out the recording from our 2000 production.

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