Edith Piaf Singer – La Vie En Rose – Biography – Press Release – Beneath Paris Skies

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Sonoma County-based writer, performer and professional operatic mezzo Valentina Osinski has written her first commissioned piece for theater, BENEATH PARIS SKIES, about the life and music of the legendary chanteuse, Édith Piaf. Scheduled for its world premiere at Cinnabar Theater on Dec 31, 2014, the show was co-written with Bay Area tenor Michael Van Why, noted for his Piaf interpretations, and lyricist Lauren Lundgren, based in New Mexico. Ms. Osinski has sung all over the country for major opera companies such as San Francisco Opera, New York City Opera, and Opera Theater of St. Louis, has performed for Hillary Clinton at the Palace of Fine Arts, sung on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, on MTV, at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, at the Seattle Center, and as a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony. Mr. Van Why has performed European cabaret music throughout the Bay Area for over ten years with his voice and accordion duo, Due Zighi Baci. This marks Ms. Osinski’s and Mr. Van Why’s first foray into writing a piece for the musical theater stage.

BENEATH PARIS SKIES is a revue based on Édith Piaf’s half-sister Simone Berteaut’s book, Piaf. In it, four performers, two women and two men, portray differing aspects of Édith’s famously mercurial personality through her iconic songs, all skillfully adapted into English from the French by Lauren Lundgren. The story unfolds through the lens of the stream-of-consciousness recollections of the character of Simone onstage. BENEATH PARIS SKIES captures the essence of Édith Piaf’s extraordinarily complex and troubled, yet effervescent, persona through story, song, and dance.

Cinnabar Theater’s artistic director, Elly Lichenstein, came to Michael and me early in 2014 and asked us to create a piece based on Édith Piaf utilizing the same cast and crew from 2013’s wildly successful Jacques Brel revue. After starting with selecting the music we wanted to highlight, that impetus was the seed of my inspiration to embody Édith using the four singing performers as four archetypes of her character, and Michael’s subsequent insight to include Simone as a fifth performer onstage as their foil. I brought in lyricist Lauren Lundgren to adapt the lyrics based on the fine work she had done in the past of adapting Carmen’s famous Habanera aria. Probably the greatest joy in the creation of this piece has been the truly collaborative writing process we’ve experienced from start to finish.”

The Cast of BENEATH PARIS SKIES features: Valentina Osinski, Michael Van Why, Julia Hathaway, and Kevin Singer as the aspects of Édith, Melissa Weaver as Simone, Al Haas, Robert Lunceford, Daniel Gianola-Norris, Jan Martinelli, and John Shebalin in the pit and Joseph Favalora as choreographer. Melissa Weaver also directs.

BENEATH PARIS SKIES opens with a New Year’s Eve gala at Cinnabar Theater, 3333 Petaluma Blvd N. at Skillman Lane, Petaluma on December 31, 2014 and runs the following three weekends through January 18, 2015. Show times are 8 PM Friday and Saturday, 2 PM Saturday and Sunday, and 9:30 PM on New Year’s Eve. Tickets are $35 and $65 for the New Year’s Eve gala. http://www.cinnabartheater.org/1415season/Edith.Piaf.No.Regrets.cinnabar.theater.html

Want to know more about Edith Piaf? Check out the award-winning film on Amazon: