In this case the student, Steven Hoffman (Ken Ferrigni), is a tense and apparently arrogant 25-year-old piano prodigy whose burnout has reached the level where he can no longer play in public. A Viennese music professor sends him to yet another Viennese teacher, Mashkan (Kenneth Tigar), this one a vocal coach. The plan is for Mashkan to get Steven (or Stefan, as he insists on calling him) to sing himself, learning to loose the emotions within so that he can properly accompany singers and, in the end, find something for himself in the world of music that he has lost.
Ken Ferrigni and Kenneth Tigar in Old Wicked Songs.
The specific key to unlocking Steven’s cage is Robert Schumann’s song cycle Dichterliebe, bits of which are heard throughout and used effectively to advance the story and the characters’ relationship.We hear the music both live and recorded from the moment we enter Mashkan’s studio (a properly old-fashioned Viennese atmosphere here), and it sets the tone for an evening that has more than a touch of Weltschmerz to it.