Jules Massenet’s Werther (1892) was not the first opera based on this story, but it
is by far the most popular. Although it was premiered to muted acclaim, after a
decade it had become a popular favourite, equal to his earlier Manon. Edouard Blau and Paul Milliet’s
libretto does well to translate Goethe’s passionate text to the stage, placing
the focus strictly on the central characters rather than their extended
environment. Musically, it shows Massenet at his not insigificant peak, homing
in on Werther’s grief to astounding effect. There is a graceful restraint on
display throughout, which prevents it sinking into melodrama.
Interested in the Royal Opera's Summer 2016 season?
Director Benoit Jacques’ production was,
like Werther itself, a late bloomer.
In 2004, it was critiqued for vagueness. By its 2011 revival staring Rolando
Villazon, it was praised for its intelligence and subtly. Jacques’ staging
combines period touches with a sparse minimalism, foregrounding the characters’
Tenor Vittorio Grigolo (Faust), whose Royal Opera debut came
with Manon, will play Werther
opposite superstar American mezzo Joyce DiDonato (Maria Stuarda)’s Charlotte. Baritone David Bizic as Albert and
Heather Engebreston as Charlotte’s sister Sophie will join them to complete the
central cast. Covent Garden music director Antonio Pappano returns to the
podium, and should provide a masterful reading of an opera he is indelibly
associated with. Werther should be a
reliable stalwart of the Royal Opera’s summer season 2016.
|What||Werther, Royal Opera House|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
19 Jun 16 – 13 Jul 16, 7:30 PM – 10:30 PM
|Website||Click here to book via Culture Whisper and See Tickets|