[Met Performance] CID:225280
Werther {22} Hynes Civic Auditorium, Boston, Massachusetts: 04/23/1971.

(Review)


Boston, Massachusetts
April 23, 1971


WERTHER {22}

Werther.................Franco Corelli
Charlotte...............Régine Crespin
Albert..................Dominic Cossa
Sophie..................Judith Blegen
Bailiff.................Donald Gramm
Schmidt.................Charles Anthony
Johann..................Andrij Dobriansky
Käthchen................Lorraine Keane
Brühlmann...............Lou Marcella

Conductor...............Alain Lombard

Review of Craig Smith in the Boston Globe

Massenet's 'Werther' staged at Hynes Auditorium

The Metropolitan Opera's production of "Werther" by Massenet was given yesterday evening at Hynes Auditorium. "Werther," by no means uninteresting, has at least three well-defined rewarding roles, much beautiful orchestration, and a third act equal, it seems to me, to anything in French romantic opera.

That is part of the problem of the work. It is a little bland in the first two acts, and then picks up in such a remarkable way in the third that all that has gone before is eclipsed. The fourth act is a bit of a letdown and thus emphasizes the unevenness.

The audience buzzed wondering whether Corelli was going to sing the title role, especially after his cancellation on Monday night in "Aida." He did sing, but one wonders what all the fuss was about. There were a few beautiful, loud notes, a lot of execrable French, a great deal of standing around with clenched fists which seems to be Mr. Corelli's idea of acting. This would be acceptable if there were one ounce of rhythmic definition or expressiveness in his voice, but it all sounded very cold and very brazen to me. Regine Crespin's Charlotte was not too much on acting, either, but her voice is warm and colorful so that hers was a convincing portrayal. Some ensemble problems in the letter scene in the third act led one to believe that the role (traditionally done by a mezzo) was new to her. If so, it should certainly develop into one of her best, for the dark quality in the middle voice and the extraordinary power in her top tones fit the role perfectly.

Judith Blegen's Sophie was delightful, and she must be one of the best soubrettes on the Met roster. I would love to see her do some of the lighter Mozart roles - that kind of sound and diction is needed in the Met's Mozart. Donald Gramm was, as usual, superb in the role of Charlotte's father.

The orchestra sounded rather ragged; of course this piece has not been in the repertoire as long as the standard fare, but still one imagines that a stronger conductor than Alain Lombard would have brought more color out of the group. It's a pity that they couldn't have arranged the sets so that the third and fourth acts were given without pause. Certainly the music before the fourth act is more of a reaction to the third than a prelude to the fourth.

Sets and costumes looked shabby for a new production; they must have been drastically cut for the tour. That sort of thing, of course, is inevitable, but when one thinks of the money put out by Bostonians to fill or nearly fill Hynes Auditorium every night for a week, one wonders if the money wouldn't be better spent on supporting Boston's own opera groups. There is enough vocal, orchestral and directing talent in Boston to put on first rate opera, we don't have to accept cutback New York productions as a standard of quality.



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