The Met: Werther — Jules Massenet

“It seems to me pointless to do an opera as passionate as Werther and not try and reach out and touch the audience.” —Richard Eyre

Well, Richard Eyre, I guess I took you too literally when I went back to see Werther a second time on Saturday. Despite making it way easier to accomplish by getting a much closer seat, there was no reaching. There was no touching!

However, I can tell you that if you’re in Box 30 Seat 3 of the Grand Tier, that framing device leaves you with a view of Werther’s feet for the start of the last scene. Frankly, Jonas Kaufmann has more talent in those feet than the rest of us dream of, but I happen to be a tremendous admirer of his facial talent, which is no more deeply affecting that when his character is in emotional agony. That, and I was worried he might have lost his untied cravat, which I’d grown quite fond of.

Having now seen the Met’s Werther twice, my takeaway is that, well, of course Jonas Kaufmann can sing like you read about, and the production was gorgeous. I’d seen his Tosca and his Faust, and over-listened to countless of his recordings.* But his acting in this was just staggeringly real. This is no small feat in a role that is inherently off the well-balanced emotional chain. But Jonas Kaufmann (my heeero) did it.

______________________

*In the interest of full disclosure, there aren’t all that many recordings, so they may, in fact, be countable.

And another thing: I think Gabriel Yared kind of borrowed the chord progression you hear at the beginning of the above video for The English Patient. It’s right here, at about 55 seconds in. That’s okay. My friend, CR, swears she heard Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay in Act IV of Werther.

 

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Werther: Jonas Kaufmann & Sophie Koch at the Met

I went to see this last night. *sigh*

Jonas Kaufmann stars in the title role of Massenet’s sublime adaptation of Goethe’s revolutionary and tragic romance, opposite Sophie Koch as Charlotte. The new production is directed and designed by Richard Eyre and Rob Howell, the same team that created the Met’s recent hit staging of Carmen. Rising young maestro Alain Altinoglu conducts.

For people who say writers can’t write quality work quickly, the program notes said that Goethe wrote The Sorrows of Young Werther in six weeks.

rogueragdoll:

Jonas Kaufmann Is ON OUR RADAR: Opera Superstar Talks Wagner, ‘Parsifal,’ And Craving Time Off

Interview here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/01/jonas-kaufmann-wagner_n_2792469.html

JK: [Wagner] didn’t call it an opera. He called it a Bühnenweihfestspiel, which means a stage blessing.

That’s funny, because that’s exactly what I call Jonas whenever I see him. (On stage. From my balcony box at the Met. Through my opera glasses, which do that cartoon eyeball popping out of the lens thing—but very quietly, so it’s barely audible to Jonas. Or to the brass section below).

Jonas Kaufmann – Core ‘ngrato – Peralada (by Adina Miranda)

Cathy, Cathy,
why are you saying these bitter words to me?
Why are you speaking to me
And tormenting my heart, Cathy?
Don’t forget that I gave you my heart
Don’t forget.

Cathy,Cathy
What are you saying?
This talk is torture to me.
Don’t you think of my pain?
You don’t think about it
You don’t care.
Heart, ungrateful heart
You’ve taken my life
Everything has passed
And you no longer think of it.

Cathy, Cathy,
You don’t know that I even went to church
I entered and prayed to God, Cathy
And I even told the priest, Cathy:
“I’m about to die for her,
I’m suffering,
Suffering that is not to be believed
I’m suffering every kind of hell
And the priest, who is a holy man said:
“Son, leave her alone, leave her alone.”

Heart, ungrateful heart
You’ve taken my life
Everything has passed
And you no longer think of it.

English translation from: