[Met Performance] CID:255200

Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, October 7, 1978

Debut : Julius Rudel, Ann Sessions

Werther (35)
Jules Massenet | Édouard Blau/Paul Milliet/Georges Hartmann
Plácido Domingo

Elena Obraztsova

Dominic Cossa

Betsy Norden

Italo Tajo

Charles Anthony

Andrij Dobriansky

Ann Sessions [Debut]

Cecil Baker

Julius Rudel [Debut]

Paul-Emile Deiber

Rudolf Heinrich

Lighting Designer
Gil Wechsler

Stage Director
Fabrizio Melano

Werther received ten performances this season.
Photograph of Elena Obraztsova as Charlotte in Werther by Winnie Klotz/Metropolitan Opera.

Review 1:

Review of George Jellinek for the Times News Service

New York -- Massenet's "Werther," the quintessentially French operatic reworking of Goethe's famous novels returned to the Metropolitan Opera on Saturday. It had been absent since the 1971-72 season. Julius Rudel, long-time general director of the New York City Opera company, made his Met debut and all the principal singers were heard in their roles here for the first time.

Aside from emphasizing the good relationship between New York's two major opera companies, the invitation extended to Rudel was a wise decision - clearly endorsed by the warm ovation which greeted his appearance in the pit. For the past many years he has proved his affinity for French opera not only on stage, but also in an impressive list of major recordings. Taking over Werther on short notice to replace the indisposed Richard Bonynge, Rudel controlled the stage action with the skill of the thoroughly experienced craftsman he is. He paced the music with clarity and a thorough understanding of the restraint with which Massenet counterbalanced the over-sentimentality of his literary source, but whipped up plenty of excitement for the passionate climaxes.

That elusive French aura, however, was not always evident in the singing. Elena Oeraztsova and Placido Domingo made a handsome pair singing, acted well and sang with opulence, but neither artist is really at home in Massenet's world. Miss Obraztsova's style does not adapt easily to Charlotte's self-effacingly subtle music in the first two acts, where so much depends on verbal emphasis and Gallic smoothness of phrasing. Domingo excelled in all the big moments, particularly in the "desolation" of the second act, but he lacks the "voix mixte" technique which would enable him to move imperceptibly from chest to head voice. Not surprisingly both artists did their best singing in the passionate final scenes.

In the role of Sophie, Betsy Norden was a delight to hear and to behold. And Dominic Cossa coped competently with the thankless role of Albert, the husband saved from cuckoldry only by the conventions of the age. There is not much tone in Italo Tajo's singing these days, but he remains a lively stage figure.

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