The Sanctuary Series, dedicated to presenting extraordinary keyboard performances in the historic hamlet of South Salem, NY, will begin its 5th Season Sunday, Sept. 24, by hosting a special benefit performance of Mrs. Mozart, a one-woman play by Michael Lankester based a meeting Constanze Mozart had with English tourists in the 19th century. The dialogue is interspersed with Mozart’s music performed on piano by Mr. Lankester, who also directs. The remarkably evocative play, which will be staged in the Sanctuary of the South Salem Presbyterian Church, has been extremely well-received wherever presented. Written for, and first performed in London by Joan Plowright, who was then Laurence Olivier’s wife, the play premiered in the United States in 1999 at The Bushnell in Hartford with Estelle Parsons starring as Constanze.
Mrs. Mozart was inspired by the diaries of an English couple, Vincent Novello, an accomplished musician and his wife, Mary who were great fans of Mozart and had traveled to Salzburg in 1829, 38 years after the composer’s death, where they were granted an interview by the 66-year-old Consanze. Their meticulous notes of Constanze's recollections were lost to history for more than a century until discovered in an Italian villa by soldiers near the end of World War II and published in 1955 as Mozart Pilgrimage. To Mr. Lankester, the much-maligned wife of the frenetic and childlike Mozart was an ideal companion who created an environment within which he could flourish.