[Met Performance] CID:259130

Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, October 6, 1979

Werther received four performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Speight Jenkins in the New York Post

Met's 'Werther' comes alive

It's taken eight years and 29 performances but on Saturday night the Metropolitan Opera finally presented a dramatically plausible "Werther."

Onstage were young people who looked their roles and lived them to the hilt and Massenet's music suddenly became a moving extension of the action, not an exercise in sentimentality.

Charlotte should be beautiful, in love with Werther and held from him by the strictures of morality, while Werther must be smitten and suffering.

It may sound easy to pull off but most Charlottes have been too mature and lacking in desperate intensity, and Werthers have been unable to convey the total despair that would make a man in his early 20s shoot himself out of frustrated passion.

In Tatiana Troyanos and Neil Shicoff, however, the Metropolitan found two artists who surpassed all obstacles and made their characters completely believable.

Miss Troyanos' easy high notes, her overall richness of timbre and her splendid taste and phrasing more than offset the lack of ideal clarity to her mezzo soprano. Her French was idiomatic, and her sublimated passion extraordinary,

But the opera lives or dies with its hero, and Shicoff was amazing. In his three prior seasons at the Met he has often overdone his romantic acting; now in the most romantic of all his roles, he was a model of restraint. The frustration, the agonies of longing came through his every movement - and some that he visibly restrained himself from making - and his face revealed a soul in torture.

He sang with great sensitivity. Some of the phrasing in "Porquoi me reveiller" seemed a trifle off -he twice leapt to the high note a fraction late - and his Italianate voice lacked a bit of the brightness needed for piercing Massenet's Wagnerian orchestra. But his French was good; his line was elegant; he never forced, never held a note too long and took plenty of vocal risks. He created a character as musically viable and interesting as Werther, in my experience, has ever been

Of equal Importance was the work of. Richard Boynge, whose conducting of the opera has developed since his performance last winter. More of the moods came through, the romance in the orchestra burst forth and the rhythm was stronger. If only he could temper the orchestra's volume just a shade, he would be even better.

Kathleen Battle again was utterly charming as Sophie, her top lovely end her acting enchanting, and Ryan Edwards as Albert seemed almost too avuncular, but his anger and jealousy were well expressed and he brought a full, resonant baritone to the part.

Of high quality too was Ara Berberian in the thankless role of Charlotte's father. What little he had to sing, he sang well.

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