A New Production of Massenet's Werther

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Jonas Kaufmann as Werther and Sophie Koch as Charlotte in Massenet's 'Werther' Jonas Kaufmann as Werther and Sophie Koch as Charlotte in Massenet's 'Werther' (Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera)

This Saturday at 1 pm the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts its new production of Massenet's Werther. Tenor Jonas Kaufmann stars as Werther and French soprano Sophie Koch is Charlotte. 

Werther is loosely based on the deeply precious (and overwhelmingly sad) novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe called The Sorrows of Young Werther. The opera, like the book, is about a young man who can never be with the woman he loves, because she is married to someone else— and the music certainly tugs on the heart strings.

This new production, directed by Richard Eyre, empathizes with Werther's heartache, which can be a difficult feat with a character whose love for Charlotte borders on creepy (Koch is making her Met debut in this role). Other cast members include Lisette Oropesa as Sophie and David Bižic as Albert. Alain Altinoglu conducts the performance. 


Conductor: Alain Altinoglu
Charlotte: Sophie Koch
Sophie: Lisette Oropesa
The Bailiff: Jonathan Summers
Johann: Philip Cokorinos
Schmidt: Tony Stevenson
Werther: Jonas Kaufmann
Brühlmann: Christopher Job
Käthchen: Maya Lahyani
Albert: David Bižic

Comments [14]

Daniel from NYC

Has anybody heard Kraus or Gedda in Werther to make a comparison? If so, there wouldn't be such high praise for Kaufmann whose voice has not the required qualities, not to speak of his pinched and cavernous sound.

Mar. 04 2017 02:15 PM
naomi young meyer from New Jersey

Jonas Kaufmann was magnificent. Surprise for me was hearing and seeing the excellent Lisette Oropesa for the first time. Sadly, the sound stopped and I didn't stay to read subtitles. The management gave the audience passes for another opera. HD is a wonderful way that enables me to enjoy operas.

Mar. 15 2014 11:20 PM
Dian Chiamulera from Pelham, NY

A fantastic production: the set, costumes, tech effects all worked so well. Peter Gelb finally got it right. Massenet's music Kaufman's Werther and Koch's Charlotte were magnificent. Unfortunately I saw it in HD and the last few minutes the sound was off and then the screen went blank. How unfortunate.

Mar. 15 2014 09:42 PM
Louisa Katz from New York

Well today's performance was as good as it gets-singers, sets and music. Everything you'd want to see and hear on radio and HD but then the gremlins attacked the HD with about 10 minutes to go. Fortunately I had seen it last week and knew the emotional and sensitive ending that was coming but what happened to the HD? First the sound was gone and then the picture; does anyone know what happened to the transmission?

Mar. 15 2014 08:30 PM
Madison from Manhattan

Kaufmann sang a powerful, emotional draining (both for him and us) performance of Werther this matinee. For those of us who want to see our poets suffer bis zum bittern Ende, Kaufmann convinced us that this is what all poets must go through. Bravi,also, to Koch, Oropesa Bizic,et al.I had seen Kaufmann's Met debut a few years ago as Alfredo and, at that time, felt that he lacked the bright, lyrical quality needed for the role. At times, I felt maybe he should have been singing Germont! His following Parsifal was magnificent as was today's Werther- a great tenor.Again, I'm perplexed and annoyed at the pointless update. What is gained by having men dance in tuxedos in the ball scene, other than one of them maybe wore the same size tux as Macbeth! (yes, for those who missed it, the 10th century Scots king wore a tux) so they can save on costume money. Having Albert dressed like a World War 1 poilu serves what purpose? And the final dingy room that Werther lives in looks exactly like my first Greenwich Village flat in 1958. Both the novel and the opera are set in the late 18th century.Why can't this be respected?

Mar. 15 2014 07:28 PM
concetta nardone from Nassau

Bravo everyone. This opera softens me. I'd better be careful. I do have a reputation to maintain.

Mar. 15 2014 04:03 PM
concetta nardone from Nassau

CBC: I met Ms. Masiello and occasionally worked with her prompting in the opera workshop her mother ran. What nice memories. Love this opera. A nice change from the violence and mayhem I usually favor. Trying to find a recording of Francesco Albanese, a tenor of superb artistry singing Pourquoi me Reveiller. He was mainly a singer of Neapolitan songs and Italian opera. Catch him on youtube. He was my father's paisan, from Torre del Greco, right under Vesuvius. KaBoom.
Best wishes to all,

Mar. 15 2014 01:50 PM
Jane Vaughan from Central Florida

Looking forward to hearing this performanc since it's not possible for us to see it in person, as we did with Placido in Miami a number of years ago.

Mar. 15 2014 01:16 PM

The intermissions just don't measure up to those of Goldovsky, Masiello, Jellinek, Behr, Woitach, Fr. Lee. Today's intermisions pale before these giants. Cross was a giant and so too Peter Allen, Margaret is good but I could do without Siff. The quizes are too much insider stuff, everyone can't enjoy them. Thus, I ignore the commentary and revel in this wonderful music.

Mar. 15 2014 01:13 PM

CBC Hope you are well in this rollercoster weather. I was lucky enough to hera Corelli in 71 & 72 and Kraus in the 80's. Their styles couldn't be so different yet both equally valid. I remember the night Callas was in the audience _ what an ovation! I really love this opera. I hope you enjoy it.

Mar. 15 2014 01:04 PM
Hendrik E. Sadi from Yonkers, New York

I can't help but agree with what has been said about Mr. Siff and Ms Jungwait. They do sound so elementary I see myself sitting in their class. But more, it's their voices and the voices of so many people on WQXR. They all seem so commercial. Oh, for the voice of a Milton Cross. When are we going to hear an announcer like that again?

Hendrik E. Sadi
Yonkers, NY

Mar. 15 2014 12:19 PM
concetta nardone from Nassau

Thank you Mr. Madison. Lucky you. To be there to see this lovely opera live. As for Precious Ira, I keep running to the radio to turn him and Margaret off. I used to like listening to the intermission features.
Enjoy the music.
Best wishes

Mar. 15 2014 10:00 AM
Madison from Manhattan


If your "snarky remarks" refer to comments about Ira Siff ( who sounds as if he speaks with captions over his head), I agree. I solved the problem of both of them years ago by keeping the mute on until about 1:06 and then muting immediately after the last notes of each act. Both he and Jungwait sound as if they are talking to a grade school class. All that is missing is starting each sentence with,"and now kiddies".

As for this afternoon,my wife and I will be there. I remember seeing Corelli sing Werther ca.1971.

Mar. 15 2014 09:53 AM
concetta nardone from nassau

CBC: Hope you are well. Weather here is moderating. This opera has moments of beauty. The Pourquoi me Revillie (?) is gorgeous. I hope Precious Ira doesn't annoy me too much with his gushing. I've gotten some flack because of my snarky remarks. Everyone is so SENSITIVE. Where is it written that classical music lovers cannot show annoyance or other honest opinions. Tante belle cose.

Mar. 15 2014 06:46 AM

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