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  Play Details

Werther

The Kennedy Center
2700 F Street, NW Washington

In Jules Massenet's Werther, the young poet Werther has fallen desperately in love with the beautiful Charlotte. When he discovers that she is honor-bound to marry Albert, he tries to stay away, but his passion draws him back to her. Finally, Werther decides the only way he can find peace is through death. The performance by Washington National Opera features Italian tenor Francesco Meli in his company debut in the title role and mezzo-soprano Sonia Ganassi as Charlotte. The two performers recently sang the same roles together in Parma, Italy. Chris Alexander directs and Emmanuel Villaume conducts.

Presented by Washington National Opera

Thru - May 27, 2012



Price: $25-$300

Running Time: 2 hours 40 mins with 1 intermission

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  Review Round-Up

DCTheatreScene - Recommended

Werther, the final production of Washington National Operaís 2011-2012 season, features some wonderful music in Jules Massenetís lyrical score. It is beautifully supported by the strong dynamics of the orchestra under the baton of Emmanuel Villaume and the tempered singing of the cast. However, I am still trying to figure out how certain layers of production laid on top of this quintessential romantic work served the story.
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Susan Galbraith


Washington Examiner - Highly Recommended

"... The Washington National Opera has produced Jules Massenet's great late romantic opera "Werther" only four times in its 56-year history. But even if you have previously seen a WNO "Werther," you haven't seen one like the extraordinary production currently running at the Kennedy Center."
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Barbara Mackay


Baltimore Sun - Recommended

"... Yes, there was a fortissimo note that didn't quite hold together. And nitpickers would subtract points for the singer's switch to falsetto once or twice. But what classy vocalism this was overall, so tender in tone, so exquisitely refined in phrasing."
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Tim Smith


MetroWeekly - Highly Recommended

"... Indeed, what this opera strives for is an emotional authenticity in the building of Werther's frenzy as he realizes again and again with ever-fresh heartbreak that Charlotte cannot be his. This, of course, rests largely in the lap of the tenor, and here Francesco Meli is remarkably genuine in voice and character. Appealing and expressive, Meli very much looks the part of the ardent male who, at pretty much the drop of a hat (Charlotte: ''You hardly know me!''), imbues his target with cosmic grandeur. Singing with lyric intensity, Meli drives and rides Massenet's emotional train with gratifying fervor, even if his top notes, if nicely sustained, can occasionally be just the tiniest bit grating. As for the opera's heartrending aria ''Pourquoi me reveiller,'' Meli brings it home with enough color, passion and power to give even the corporate seats goose bumps."
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Kate Wingfield


City Paper - Somewhat Recommended

"... Opera audiences have a higher tolerance for melodramatics than most. Some forlorn fool spends two hours bemoaning his unrequited love before killing himself and nobody bats an eye. So when the audience starts giggling as the title character in Werther wails in despair while flopping around on stage like a fish, itís a bad sign."
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Mike Paarlberg


Washington Times - Recommended

"...Even though itís probably a bit too early to judge, the Washington National Opera sure seems to be benefiting from its new relationship with the Kennedy Center. After its long winter break, WNO returned to the Kennedy Centerís Opera House a couple of weeks ago with its spectacular new production of Verdiís epic Nabucco. This past weekend, the company opened its final opera of the season, a quiet, thoughtful, yet passionate production of Jules Massenetís Wertheróits first since 1996óstarring terrific young tenor Francesco Meli in the title role. Itís a winner in nearly every way."
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Terry Ponick


Washingtonian - Recommended

"... Like many operas, Werther asks us to accept a plot that pushes the bounds of believability. But this performance worked, as any successful production must, because of the chemistry between tenor Francesco Meli's Werther and mezzo-soprano Sonia Ganassi's Charlotte--not an easy thing, since for much of the work the two sing alone, rarely together. Meli and Ganassi are both Italian, and though Meli sang Werther in a distinctly Italianate style (his French diction not always ideal), Ganassi was more idiomatic. They were both lyrical, communicative singers, and by the opera's end, with Werther collapsed in Charlotte's arms, the love between them seemed utterly convincing."
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Sudip Bose


DC Metro Theater Arts - Highly Recommended

"...Maestro Emmanuel Villaume leads the audience on an adventure of Massenetís strength for describing the troubles of the human heart. Under Villaumeís baton, the orchestra flourishes in the darker phrases and grasps the quainter themes that suggest everyday French conversation in the countryside. Director Chris Alexanderís overall staging was wonderful, and his direction in Act III is brilliantóI couldnít get enough."

Teal Ruland


The Georgetowner - Recommended

"... The production, directed by Chris Alexander and conducted by Emmanuel Villaume, is updated to the 1920s, which gives it a quality closer to us. The music is a weather vane, and it functions beautifully on its own. In a showcase scene, Charlotte, increasingly worried about Werther, tries to leave a formal dinner at her home, but guests keep arriving with fanfare in a tense, heightened scene with no singing and no words."
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Gary Tischler



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