Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for
Benoît Jacquot’s production.

(c)Catherine Ashmore.

The Stage: *** “Edward Gardner conducts, drawing together the opera’s wide stylistic range, yet rather like the production not quite managing to achieve the emotional punch the score needs to succeed.”

The Guardian: *** “Gardner, meanwhile, is superb in his understanding of both the score’s emotional complexities and its dark Wagnerian undertow.”

The Telegraph: *** “Two very fine performances in the leading roles make this revival of Massenet’s Werther well worth catching – especially as there are hundreds of seats available in all areas of the auditorium.”

Express: **** “The current Royal Opera House production, elegantly directed by Benoit Jacquot, was first seen in 2004 and has this time secured the services not only of great singers for the main roles, but also the conductor Edward Gardner who succeeds in bringing out the best in Massenet’s gloriously romantic music.”

Bachtrack: *** “In sum, an evening full of musical delights – indeed, something of an eye-opener as to how Wagnerian Massenet’s score can sound – but which feels too long as a piece of drama, needing the setting to be more atmospheric and the chemistry between characters to be as visible as it is audible.”

The Independent: ** ” Since Benoit Jacquot’s staging is stodgy and inert, the singers act their heads off in attempts to breathe life into it – heroically, in the case of Heather Engebretson’s Sophie – but the two principals simply don’t cut the mustard. Leonard’s singing has a cold efficiency but no trace of real emotion, while poor Florez, left to bear the weight of the evening, is not equal to the challenge.”

Broadway World: **** “This is as strong an outing as we’ve seen for this piece. Sacrificing tidiness for passion, Gardner and his cast give us Werther for the 13 Reasons Why generation: angry, hormonal and undeniably romantic.”

The FT: **** “but the conductor certainly can, and Edward Gardner is outstanding. He accompanies Flórez with sensitivity, but the rich power of Massenet’s late Romantic orchestra is never short-changed, and the orchestral sound has an ideally French bloom and some air within it.”

A Younger Theatre: *** “It would be fair to say that this opera and, I suspect, the genre more generally, is in part intended more as an emotional and visual experience than just a narrative. In this case, It wouldn’t achieve anything like what it does without its ridiculously impressive set.”

The Times: *** “We see his shadow first, we have already heard his fate foretold in the orchestra’s louring opening chords. Werther is the idealistic wanderer, brooding in dark corners and longing for light and love. (Although why is he wearing sunglasses here?)”

British Theatre Guide: “Jacquot’s production still appeals—the attractive sets and clean staging work well but unfortunately this cast isn’t quite able to bring the work to life. There is some fine singing, but the emotional depth is lacking.”

Crossed Eyed Pianist: “Werther is all psychological drama. The narrative is bare but doesn’t feel so because of the richness of the music. In parts Jules Massenet, the French composer, shows his love for Wagner, in others, sorrowful and heart-rending music of great delicacy.”

Werther continues to play at the Royal Opera House until the 5th October.


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