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.
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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|