The first pretty pull-in of the composer's Werther is the widowed mayor's family home, where saintly big sister Charlotte is raising the younger children, ensuring they get food for body and soul, with hunks of bread and carol practice. She has promised her dying mother that she will marry sound, solid Albert. But we have already caught sight of the hunky poet Werther – and so will she.
Months later, she's married and Werther is hanging round outside the church. Will Charlotte will swop her elegant home for the poet's attic?
Baritone Jacques Imbrailo plays the decent, dull husband Albert in Massenet's Werther. Photo: Sim Canetty-Clarke
An example of international cooperation, this production from the Opéra National de Paris opened at Covent Garden in 2016 on the night of the Brexit referendum result, an irony not lost on its stunned audience then. Now it returns with a starry new – and international – cast.
Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Floréz takes the title role, with US mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard as Charlotte, and UK-based, South African-born baritone Jacques Imbrailo as Albert. Edward Gardner conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.
The landscape's lovely in Charles Edwards's painterly design, and in the score, here's a peep through the hedgerow to Puccini, here a glimpse of Wagner, and occasionally Richard Strauss on the horizon. The libretto is by Edouard Blau and Paul Milliet.
Werther is sung in French with English surtitles. Performances are on 17, 20, 24, 27 Sept; 1, 5 Oct. General booking opens 9AM, Wed 7 Aug
|What||Werther, Royal Opera House|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
17 Sep 19 – 05 Oct 19, six performances