Weisburgh, 82, and Munger, 76, are living ‘La Dolce Vita’ with their first musical

The Enterprise — Michael Koff
Ladies’ man: Sergio, played by Mike Collins of Berne, takes turns courting women. He sings to one woman while another looks on.

GUILDERLAND – Herb Weisburgh was wandering along the bank of the Arno River in Florence, Italy, when he ducked down an alley to explore.

Soon, he found himself in pursuit of a song that was bouncing off the centuries-old buildings of Firenze.

As he left the alley, he said: “There was a beautiful woman, singing this operatic aria.” She was a street performer.

“I just became very enamored with that, and I held onto it,” he said.

Weisburgh and Ed Munger, a songwriting team for 50 years, will debut their first musical, “Love in Firenze,” tonight at The Addy at Proctors on State Street in Schenectady.

“Firenze” is Italian for “Florence,” the city where much of the musical takes place.

Why Firenze and not Florence?

Because, like meatballs drenched in mamma’s gravy, the writers wanted their musical “to have an Italian flavor,” said Weisburgh, 82, of Guilderland, who wrote the lyrics and book while Munger, 76, wrote the music.

The story starts in New York, where Victor, the musical’s protagonist, has been mourning his wife. After two years of heartache, he decides to renew an old acquaintance, Sergio, his wife’s cousin, who is “very much the ladies’ man,” according to Weisburgh.

And so, Victor, along with his daughter, father, and housekeeper, trek to Firenze, where Sergio tells Victor it’s time to move on.

Victor soon meets Lucia, an aspirational opera singer who currently runs a restaurant with her mother — both are named Maria.

Victor and Lucia fall in love.  

But then Victor has to quickly return to New York, leaving his daughter, housekeeper, and new-found love, under the wandering eye of noted lothario Sergio.

A case of mistaken identity on the part of Maria leads to pandemonium, and soon Victor and Sergio are competing for Lucia’s affection.

The period in which the musical takes place, the 1980s, was important for Weisburgh. He wanted to have a strong female lead.

The ’80s, according to Weisburgh, was a time when women began to really assert themselves in society.

But he also sought to counter that with a touch of the sweet life.

In Italy, at the time, citizens were in pursuit of “La Dolce Vita,” The Sweet Life — a time, according to Weisburgh, when life was carefree.

Sergio is La Dolce Vita personified.

Weisburgh began writing in 2003, after returning from his trip to Italy. He had retired in 2000 after a career as a clinical social worker, the last seven years running the children’s mental-health clinic at Saint Mary's Hospital in Amsterdam.

A half-century of collaboration

After the 2003 trip, Weisburgh visited with Munger, whom he hadn’t seen in a while, he said.

“You know, I’d like to start writing music again,” Weisburgh said to Munger during their visit. “He said, ‘You know, I was thinking of doing a play.’ I said, ‘Why not combine them into a musical? I’ve got just the idea for it.”

What began as “September Deception” became, 20 drafts and one staged reading later, “Love in Firenze” — the product of a lifetime of collaboration.

Weisburgh and Munger first met in 1965, when Weisburgh bought a guitar and Munger was recommended as an instructor by the shop’s owner.

The pair soon discovered that one wrote lyrics and the other, music.

In the first years of their partnership, collaboration was a regular occurrence and success was within reach.

The duo soon made their way to New York City to meet with songwriter Tony Romeo — probably best known for penning “I Think I Love You” by The Partridge Family. Romeo had family from Watervliet that Munger had known.

When the pair met with Romeo, he was celebrating his millionth record sold for “I Think I Love You.” Weisburgh and Munger played some of their songs for the platinum-record songwriter and, although they weren’t successful in their pitch, Romeo did like one song in particular, Weisburgh said, “Warm Winter Night,” which is reprised in “Love in Firenze.”

So, are Weisburgh and Munger the Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Capital Region?

A duo, inextricably linked, whose legendary toxic relationship created some of the greatest music ever?

Well — no.

In 50 years of friendship, Weisburgh said, they have never had friction.

They just want to make good music.

****

“Love in Firenze,” a musical by Ed Munger and Herb Weisburgh is showing at The Addy at Proctors,  432 State St., Schenectady on Thursday, April 26, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, April 28, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, April 29, at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $22.50.

For more information, call 518-346-6204, or visit www.proctors.org.

More New Scotland News

  • The Voorheesville Central School District in a letter to parents said that “based on the timing of when” a person newly diagnosed with COVID-19 was “last at school, the Albany County Department of Health has indicated no need for further action, on behalf of the school, to have school community members quarantine.” 

  • The New Scotland solar law’s prime-soil and soils-of-statewide-importance provisions make siting a solar project in town nearly impossible. 

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.