Transcendent Genius. Those are among the best words to describe what transpired on the Metropolitan Opera stage of Friday, Feb. 28. From the stage production to the cast members, to the orchestra, to even the audience members, the performance of Massenet's masterpiece "Werther" was a communal experience of visceral intensity and immediacy.
The work has not had an auspicious career at the noted opera house. Friday's performance was just the 78th time the opera had been performed at the house; the last time the Met put up a performance of the work prior to this run was in 2003-04. The revival of the work required a new production and for this year's run, Met general manager Peter Gelb turned to director Richard Eyre to inject "Werther" with new life. Eyre previously directed the Met's current "Carmen" production; his take on the work is rather "conservative" by modern standards but is extremely focused on character development and includes some subtle metaphors and symbols to enrich the work. It is this approach that he takes for his "Werther" and the execution of the work is spot-on. Continue Reading