Werther

 

Massenet Werther opera to a libretto by Édouard Blau, Paul Milliet, and Georges Hartmann. Directed 2017 by Tatjana Gürbaca at  Opernhaus Zürich. Stars Juan Diego Flórez (Werther), Anna Stéphany (Charlotte), Mélissa Petit (Sophie), Audun Iversen (Albert), Cheyne Davidson (Le Bailli) & Martin Zysset (Schmidt). Cornelius Meister conducts the Philharmonia Zürich, Kinderchor und SoprAlti der Oper Zürich, and the Statistenverien am Opernhaus Zürich (Chorus Master Ernst Raffelsberger). Set and lighting design by Klaus Grünberg; costume design by Silke Willrett; dramaturgy by Claus Spahn. Directed for TV by Michael Beyer; produced by Paul Smaczny. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

Mark Pullinger, writing in the June 2018 Gramophone at page 86, praises the singers and Meister's conducting, which balances the orchestra well with the singers. He laments that Juan Diego Flórez is "no more than a rudimentary actor." He also warns of "unusual directorial touches" by director Gürbaca, which is, as you can see from the YouTube video below, an understatement. We also understand that BBC Magazine gave a good review of this Werther in July 2018. Finally, David Baker, reporting in the August Opera News at page 48, says that "Florez's youthful stage presence and sincerity add to his sympathetic, stirring portrayal" of Werther. Baker also alludes to directing foibles stating that the "aged versions of Charlotte and Werther in the final scene, shown dancing together after death, happy for eternity---can only be seen as kitch or parody."

We already have an A+ Werther, directed by Benoît Jacquot at the Paris Opera, that combines splendid singing and acting in a traditional setting supported by up-to-date camera work. It will be interesting to see how Gürbaca's more aggressive and intellectual approach stacks up with Jacquot's straight-forward version.

Here's an official trailer: