Clip from the French production Kaufman/Koch
Clip: Massenet's Ouverture to Werther
After all Opera heart throb tenor Jonas Kaufman was Werther with a fabulous French pronunciation, and the 'Sturm and Drang' emotions of a German. What more could one ask?
Well, Kaufman delivered as promised.
|Kaufman and Koch. Photo:Ken Howard|
As one would expect from a French speaker she sang the French words beautifully.
Both really can act as well, which is very important in this opera, especially this production.
All along I felt this is the Movie of the Opera Werther!
Was it because the director Richard Eyre is better known as movie director?
Was it because of Rob Howell's cluttered sets?
|Photo: Ken Howard|
Or those horrendous close ups down the throat of Kaufman?
Amusingly, the end (due to satellite transmission failure?) appeared as a silent movie.
And, chers readers, as much as LOVE opera, sitting there in the movie theater watching close ups of mouths looking like guppies on dry land gasping for air - with surtitles - had me quietly in stitches.
I know, I know, what an irreverent thought (or two!). But yes, it was funny! And irritating, since one missed the death throes which went on and on..
As one knows (?) Werther shot himself near the heart, so death was protracted, and allowing him and Charlotte to sing some lovely duets of where and how he is to be buried, or so I surmise... no sound, remember.
Now having dished on the "show" per se, I wish to rave a bit about the principal singers.
Kaufman's thespian talent coupled with a very good looks and A voice, was WERTHER to the core.
One cannot understand why Charlotte does not fall in love with him on first sight!!! But then if she had, the rest of the opera would have been superfluous. Goethe just wanted to make hay with Romantic Love (writ large) which when denied leads to suicide. Kinda like the gimme, me, me generation nowadays. Or am I too cynical?
Koch was right there with him, when it came to acting, looks, and voice. She is billed as a Mezzo, IMO, a light and high Mezzo. But sang superbly.
Lisette Oropesa as her sister, next in age, was suitably chipper and used her clear soprano to good avail. And I really liked her - almost better! So there!
David Bizic as Albert was adequate and stiffly honorable, and yet jealousy did make him have Charlotte send the pistols to Werther, who had been talking (a lot) about death because of unfulfilled love. Did he really wish Werther to kill himself?
And Charlotte's father, the Bailiff (I forgot who it was) did not impress too much. A bit of a comic turn was provided by two of the Bailiff's drinking buddies (names of role and singers escapes me, too) with their paean to Bacchus!
I liked the costuming which showed off both Koch's and Oropesa's slim builds very nicely, thank you. Alain Altinoglu, French conductor of Turkish descent, methinks, did very well indeed, it seems to me, that Massenet was a bit ahead of his time in the use of the saxophone!
Massenet's music was certainly far reaching in scope, he really dug the "Sturm and Drang" period of German romanticism ... and yet, I, for one, had no tears in my eyes...and I always sniffle at Mme Butterfly and La Boheme, go figure.