This was a marvelous review and I enjoyed reading it very much. I
agree with Christine that it is apparent you are a professional
writer! I can almost close my eyes and picture the opera scene-by-
scene as I read through it.
Now, I will look forward to seeing the Vienna "Werther", although I
cannot imagine Marcelo as a "tormented, psycho-stalker" character.
The opera itself is one of my favorites due to the hauntingly
beautiful music. I'm not sure about the updated setting, but I will
keep an open mind.
Thank you, Kay!
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org
, "Kay" <kay3914@m...>
> Thanks to Christine, I have seen the Vienna "Werther" TV broadcast
> and Oh, my! This "Werther" is everything she and Tom Ryan have
> I am quite stunned and haunted by it. More than ever, I am looking
> forward to seeing it in Vienna this summer.
> Now I know that some opera purists might scream, "It's
> not 'Werther!'" and they may be right, but for what it is, it is
> fabulous! True, the actions of the two principals are often at
> with the libretto (although the music itself seems perfectly
> with the drama of the new concept). Werther and Charlotte
> put a great deal more into their scenes together than is written
> there, but whether or not one likes the staging and drastically
> changed concepts, the singing is gorgeous and the acting is
> The conducting by young Philippe Jordan is splendid. The director
> Booed, suggesting that some in the audience did not know what to
> of this Fifties version. Perhaps they could not reconcile such
> passions and obsessions coming from people who hang out in the
> yard, sitting on lawn furniture and drinking beer. Maybe that is
> the director envisioned. One need only read newspaper headlines or
> watch Court TV to know that the simplest of us is capable of
> tempestuous passion, blind obsession, and even violence.
> Watching Marcelo's performance, it struck me that this whole
> concept could have been created specifically with him in mind. I
> think of no other tenor who could bring off the role, as it is
> conceived here, as convincingly as Marcelo does! He is spectacular
> every way!
> Because of his very macho appearance and voice, I couldn't quite
> visualize him playing the role conventionally as the rather fey,
> absorbed, self pitying, romantic poet. Here, he starts off quite a
> normal guy, cute and romantic, but his growing frustration,
> suffering, and sexual obsession soon turn him into a tormented,
> psycho stalker. Werther asks himself if his love for Charlotte is
> truly pure. Here, the answer is definitely, No.
> His entrance in Act III - even though it is not shown on TV as
> vividly as Christine described it in the house - scared the
> out of me! The expression on his face, in a very...long...pause,
> chilling! (For a man who appears to be so pleasant off stage to
> become so terrifying ON stage - now that's acting!)
> Truly, the action that follows could stop the heart. After a
> sublimely beautiful "Pourquoi me reveiller," the scene builds to a
> shocking climax, then Werther's heartbreaking remorse. We feel
> earlier he may have been only contemplating taking his life - now
> has no choice.
> Elina Garanca is gorgeous and sings beautifully, although I can't
> quite figure out her (or the director's) interpretation of the
> She appears cold, truly a Hitchcock icy blonde, almost malevolent
> times, laughing inappropriately but without warmth in places,
> conflicted with neuroses while retreating to a facade of
> respectability. A tease who torments both Werther and her husband,
> Act III she has become rather psycho herself. Perhaps because she
> pregnant, she sees her own dreams slipping further out of reach.
> The interaction between Werther and Charlotte is so intense and
> compelling, so dialogue-driven, that it is easy to forget one is
> watching an opera - it could be a dramatic stage play, perhaps by
> Tennessee Williams, with beautiful music. Tom Ryan mentioned
> Hitchcock influences, as indeed there are, and I also feel hints
> Scarlett and Rhett, George and Martha, Blanche and Stanley.
> Adrian Erod is terrific as Albert, another character who is not
> overly stable. His conversation with Werther is amusing - his
> have her and you don't" attitude is met with sneers, a challenging
> handshake, and a weird little smile from Marcelo's Werther. I also
> love Albert's little "Well, that's over; cheer up, girls," sort of
> gesture at the end of Act II.
> Werther is a tale told of secrets and lies; here, everyone lurks
> about, eavesdropping and spying on one another.
> Like Christine, I especially love Acts II and III. Marcelo's
> is simply breathtaking - powerful, beautiful, tender, perfect.
> His "un autre son epoux" burns with nervous tension and agitation
> we see the beginning of sweet Werther's descent into despair. I am
> thrilled at last to SEE him sing my favorite of his
> l'enfant" (it must have been a favorite of the cameraman, too,
> we are treated to a wonderful closeup). The way he swoops down
> the spinetingling high note to "appelle moi" - it is to die!
> Marcelo is so handsome! His dark good looks and Garanca's pale
> are striking together. The costumes, for the most part (I think
> jackets came later, but this one looks great on him), are quite
> authentic. Charlotte starts out in a pale dress but her later
> costumes are progressively darker. Conversely, Werther first
> in a dark jacket and ends up in a white (although bloody) shirt.
> There is probably no significance to these costume colors, and the
> effect may not be intentional, but the exchange of color shades
> almost to reflect an intense psychic bond between the two, an
> absorption of one another's personas.
> The set is a bit odd, appearing at first as though they all live
> giant tree house.
> In the past, the character of Werther could be regarded simply as
> romantic, eccentric misfit. Because of contemporary experiences
> paranoia we must see him as something more sinister. I am
> that the director found the Fifties (and I don't necessarily
> to be a time of repression and hypocrisy that would accommodate
> Charlotte's decision to marry a man she doesn't love (would a
> in the Fifties really keep such a pledge to a dead mother?) as
> as Werther's growing erotic obsession.
> At the end, we see that Werther is happy, or at least at peace and
> content, dying in the arms of the woman he loves, without ever
> to put that dream of love to the test of disappointments and
> banalities of reality. Charlotte, on the other hand, has avoided
> reality of a passionate relationship by retreating to a loveless
> respectable marriage, only to be left with the wreckage of that
> marriage. Now she is the frantic, agitated one. Her own
> surfaces as she manhandles the dying Werther - we want to
> stop shaking him and maybe he'll live!"
> Albert's presence in the final scene is a bit disconcerting,
> Charlotte clearly knows he is there. Yet, I was not at all
> by the ending - it goes quickly. Albert holds her shoulders as if
> comfort her, but as she turns to him, covered in Werther's blood,
> pulls away, repulsed, and runs from her as she falls to the floor.