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BREAKING: Stephen Sondheim Working on a New Musical Based on Luis Buñuel Movies

The Tony-winning composer-lyricist reveals his latest project at the ”New Yorker” Festival.

Stephen Sondheim revealed his next project at a New Yorker Festival event.
Stephen Sondheim revealed his next project at a New Yorker Festival event.
(© David Gordon)

On Friday night, during a conversation between Tony Award winner Stephen Sondheim and New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik at the New Yorker Festival, Sondheim revealed he is at work on a new musical with playwright David Ives (Venus in Fur). When Gopnik pressed the legendary composer-lyricist for more information he replied, "I knew you were going to ask me this. I was talking to Dave [Ives] and said, 'I think Adam's going to question me about this."' With his collaborator's blessing, Sondheim, a big movie buff, told the audience that his new musical, which he anticipates to be a one-act, is based on two films by the Spanish surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel: The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and The Exterminating Angel.

"The first tells the story of a group of people trying to find a place to dine together. In the second one they dine. And it's the end of the world," he explained. Gopnik asked where they are in the process. "We've just finished the first draft…so in a few years."

Released in 1962, The Exterminating Angel tells the story of a formal dinner party, where, after the meal, none of the guests are able to leave the room and return home. Chaos and death ensue before a resolution of sorts is discovered. Released 1972, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie explores a group of upper-middle-class friends attempting to dine together. Each time they meet, however, their plans are thwarted and their dreams and fears come to the forefront as the audience attempts to unravel the story.