From: Saturday, 26th September 2009
To: Saturday, 24 October 2009
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French romantic opera. Set in Germany, it tells the simple story of Werther and his unfulfilled love for Charlotte, whose promise to marry someone else must be kept. Familiar themes of self-sacrifice are here, along with forgiveness, humility and the inevitable, yet still deeply tragic, conclusion. From the opening of the opera when we first meet the six children of Charlotte's family as they sing carols, to the unbearably sad ending.
3 October 2009
At this distance of time it is difficult to understand the Werther-fever that afflicted the impressionable youth of Europe 200-plus years ago. Jules Massenet’s 1892 opera, written more than a century after Goethe’s novel, simplifies, but doesn’t distort, the story. Werther, a promising young diplomat, falls instantly in love with a village beauty, Charlotte, who is bringing up her young siblings after the death of her mother. Sadly for him she is about to marry the respectable (and somewhat older) Albert. Werther, too honourable to force his affections and too obsessed to leave for good, commits suicide. Thackeray, as the programme book reminds us, found the whole thing ridiculous. It’s a major task for a 21st production to stop the audience feeling similarly.
That the new Opera North production succeeds in this is beyond doubt. Of course it helps that the opera is cast from strength, with two outstanding principals and luxury casting in the smaller parts...
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Paul Nilon (Werther)
Alice Coote (Charlotte)
Ann Taylor (Charlotte - Oct 16/Nov 21)
Pauline Courtin (Sophie)
Peter Savidge (Albert)
Grant Doyle (Albert - Nov 14/21)
Donlad Maxwell (Le Bailiff)
Richard Burkhard (Johann)
Joshua Ellecott (Schmidt)
Paul Rendall (Schmidt - Oct 9)