2004-10-02  Werther (Massenet), Royal Opera House London

Werther = Marcelo Alvarez
Charlotte = Ruxandra Donose
Albert = Ludovic Tézier
Sophie = Sally Matthews
Le Bailli = Jonathan Veira
Schmidt = Gilles Ragon
Johann = Darren Jefffery

Antonio Pappano, conductor

Director - Benoit Jacquot
Set Designs - Charles Edwards
Costume Designs - Christian Gasc
Lighting - Charles Edwards

Co-production with Opéra de Monte Carlo
2004-10-02 Werther (Massenet), Royal Opera House, London

One week after my travel to Berlin/Zurich, which came out very differently because of trouble with airplane and then trouble with Norwegian air-space. This time I went to London by Ryanair, so this was also from Sandefjord Torp, both ways... I felt more familiar this time. And everything went smoothly. The London Airport was Stansted, and I took the Stansted-express both ways.

And in London I decided never to go somewhere (esp. London) without a hotel reservation. I was first looking around Paddington station, either it was full or the room was I felt not safe enough. Then I went to King's Cross where I was lucky to get a room that was OK, 50 pounds, but as I later discover the breakfast was not up to par. English breakfast but I think the English would object to that.

As I went out of the tube at Covent Garden it had started raining, I believed it was a flood from the Heavens. Quite wet was I when I walked into the Opera House, standing in a line to get my ticket, then browsing in the Opera store there. And then the rain stopped. I went out of the building believing to have forgotten my memory card for my camera, I started looking around. Having some hours before the opera it wasn't that stressful... But when the doors opened in Royal Opera House I found that I had my memory cards with me. Relieved I went inside and left my jacket and my umbrella at the wardrobe. I went to the bar and had something to eat. Then it was opera-time.

Massenet's opera Werther is one of my favorite operas but not one I have had the pleasure of seeing often, first time was actually in Zurich in 2000 with Francisco Araiza and Carmen Opriseanu. This was the full Werther with all the small characters in Schmidt & Johann, Brühlman & Käthchen. And Marcelo Alvarez was an ideal Werther, and Ruxandra Donose was great as Charlotte. Reading the critics saying about this production made you believe things that were not true. One
critize the age of the children, the same age he thought. Not so where I sitting but that Sophie and Charlotte was some years older than the younger siblings and why not, having children with a minimal time in-between was not unusual at the time of Goethe / Werther. Charlotte having the same dress all the time, not so. That Sophie was a boring character, not in this production. That the background on the stage did not change during the whole opera, not so.

So how was it. Brilliant... From the prelude to Werther's death. Wonderful sung and acted from the whole company. A classic. The light setting, the setting. I think this production can live on for many years. But you need a great Werther, vocally who can act too and the same for Charlotte. And if a Werther should be really great you need a Sophie who can make you understand that there is depth in this characters who is often reduced to just happy girlish girl. But she is
smart, caring for her father, her sister and her other siblings, and she is truly in love with Werther, so this is a tragedy for her too. But Sophie has decided to see the good and happy thing in all. This Sophie had depth. And of course we were lucky to have Ludovic Tezier who made Albert an almost interesting and sympatric character.

After the opera I was at the stage door, and Marcelo Alvarez and Donose and Tezier all came out and talked and photographs being taken. "Sophie" was there too probably but no one recognized her.

And then back to my hotel. And when I came to Liverpool street (in the morning), the Stansted express was replaced by buses. I don't know why. When in Norway, Sandefjord Airport Torp I could get an earlier bus to Oslo. Probably because of a bunch of Italian students who was going to Oslo. Anyway that only meant more hours to wait in Oslo for my night bus home.

This page was last updated: June 20, 2022