Truly, madly, but not quite deeply enough: Massenet’s Werther from English Touring Opera

Goethe’s Sorrows of Young Werther pitted religion against Romanticism in a battle royal for the soul of young Germany, which Romanticism won: Werther became a cult hero, even a fashion icon, to generations of Europeans. Oliver Platt’s reduction of Goethe’s aesthetic manifesto to a kitchen sink drama (played throughout in the same shabby kitchen) gives us a broken love story as pitiable as it is ordinary, though it is a pity that Platt’s directorial approach lacks any special insight into the philosophical content of Massenet’s plot, which (in other hands) can make this such a shatteringly powerful opera. It didn’t have the reach, for example, of Aylin Bozok’s magisterial reading for Grimeborn last year.

Happily, however, there is nothing prosaic about the title role, and it’s worth the entire ticket price just to hear Ed Ballard‘s magnificently sustained, sensitive, near-insane Werther.

Click here to read my full review on Bachtrack.

Werther's letters to Charlotte during his temporary exile document his descent into suicidal madness.

Werther’s letters to Charlotte during his temporary exile tragically document his descent into suicidal madness.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s