Massenet's 'Werther' -
'... much is ravishingly beautiful ...'
Christmas always drives me to despair though not yet to suicide, mainly because of
the cards I never send but feel I should answer. In this Vienna Staatsoper production on TDK,
the Bailiff's six younger children seem to have been infinitely multiplied so that their
rehearsal and performance of a relentless 'Noël, Noël' gives Werther additional reason
to do himself in. Andrei Serban as producer has transferred Goethe's tale of the 1770s to
the 1950s, preserving for the woebegone hero a blue jacket of traditional 'Wertherism',
but rejecting the yellow trousers. He and the designer Peter Pabst have plumped for a
uniset staging of the opera.
Sophie (Ileana Tonca) and the children in Act 1 of Massenet's 'Werther'. DVD screenshot © 2005 ORF
Copyright © 16 February 2006
Robert Anderson, London UK