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I had seen the performance via my computer, certainly not the most ideal venue, but watch it I did and hoped for the early release of the DVD. Thank you Decca for not dragging your feet with this release. With every release Jonas Kaufmann validates his artistry and musicality (and voice). A tenor who sings softly! A tenor who cares for the text! I suppose the usual criticism of Kaufmann will be evoked, that he is a "bari-tenor", that he has no "squillo". He is now 40 or thereabouts and has spent much time in Zurich under the radar; he is incredibly gifted with languages (his spoken English is virtually uninflected, e.g., no German accent); I would hope that he would not contemplate a Tristan or Siegfried in the near or distant future, but on the basis of his Lohengrin I would love to hear a von Stolzing and a Tannhauser. Or even an Aeneas. I have enjoyed his forays into lieder on YouTube, making me regret my decision not to add to my CD collection--actually I no longer have it having disposed of it recently. I was thrilled by his Don Jose and I find this performance equally thrilling. One feels that he has internalized his character, that nothing he does is superficial or simply for an effect. This is true for the "big" moments but it is also true for everyhing that he does. The dvd is rife with closseups and they are telling both for him as well as this Charlotte, Sophie Koch. Indeed, she rises to great dramatic and vocal heights in the third act. Truly a major performance.Read more ›
Jonas Kaufmann is just brilliant as Werther. He has it all...the voice, the stage presence, the acting talent, and the artistry to know how to combine them all into a realistic and touching portrayal of Goethe's suffering poet, Werther. His voice is very dark - almost baritonal sounding at times - but it fits in very well with the brooding intensity of this opera. Jonas Kaufmann is also one of the best acting singers around in the opera world today and he does his role perfect justice. An absolutely beautiful performance
Not to be outdone however is Sophie Koch, who is perfect as Charlotte - the unattainable woman that Werther falls in love with. Ms. Koch has a rich mezzo voice and her third act aria is thrilling to behold. The romantic and dramatic tension between Werther and Charlotte is felt from the moment the two meet and through out the opera - it is these two characters who hold our attention and for whom we root for all the way!
Albert, played by Ludovic Tezier was awesome as well! He actually doesn't have that big a role but there is a menace underneath his gentility that is always palpable to the audience but it's almost as if he himself is not aware of the power that he radiates. It's a uniquely understated performance and I was very impressed.
The set design was simple, but effective and only added to the performances. The music conducting was very good, not outstanding but it certainly held it's own with the other aspects of the production.Read more ›
When Massenet was an impecunious student, he played in an orchestra pit for years and learned a great deal about what makes an opera succeed as a drama. He always had a hand in writing the libretto and his music always enhanced it. When his operas were mounted, he took part in the direction as well. He would be appalled at what has been done to this, arguably his most intense interpersonal drama.
At moments of great tension, the camera pulls back to the rear of the audience showing the back of the conductor, bits of the orchestra and, in the distance, the actors; or it pans to the face of the conductor; or it goes into the wings; or it goes down from the ceiling -- all killers of the drama and the mood. It would be merely laughable if the rest of the production was not all that good -- but it was excellent. As a result what could have been a stellar production has become a travesty.
If you want to see a wonderful balanced high quality production of Werther, get the one with Alvarez and Garanca. It will blow you away, probably even if you do not agree with setting it i the 1950's.
Okay, in places he 'shot' the wrong person - when Werther was singing his heart out to Charlotte, the camera hid Werther COMPLETELY and focused on Charlotte, apparently trying to capture the silent response of the lady. Here the camera man has forgotten ENTIRELY that this is an opera and not a movie. If one could make a demand, I would DEMAND THAT THE SCENE BE GIVEN AN ADDENDUM ON A BONUS DVD WITH WERTHER APPEARING IN FULL PICTURE.
This demand alone demonstrates how much substance has been put into the portrayal of the title role by Jonas Kaufmann, and how effective it is - the audience simply crave for any tiny missing bit.
As for other characters, I find Terzier's Albert very convincing both vocally and visually. Having seen Leyla Gencer's black and white Covent Garden version on DVD lately, I have to admit that Sophie Koch does not fare as well as Ms. Gencer in this role - visually, Ms. Koch is to gaunt; vocally a bit (only a tiny bit, though) on the dry side compared to Gencer's mellifluous singing.
I haven't yet heard Kazarova and Vargas' Werther (it is on the way from Amazon), but I think Kaufmann fares just as well as any lyrical tenor, given that Werther is a very 'dark' character. In terms of pathos, he really measures up to, if not surpasses, the recording of Jose Carreras (with Frederica von Stade).
The stage production at Bastille, though minimalist, is very effective. Certainly not Eurotrash - it is utterly good taste and the setting highly romantic. The supporting cast is excellent, and veteran Plasson holds the pace in firm hands. In terms of performance alone, a virtually 'perfect' piece.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I don't like this production. The stage setting and costumes are dull. The sound quality is bad, either too loud or too low. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Q. Walder
Wonderful! Wrenches your heart out !
Pourqua tu me revelleis...stunning!!!!!!!
Firstly I am not going into overdrive finding every positive adjective to describe Kaufmann's performance.. One or two things need saying before assessing the cast. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Steve Bell
I made a mistake when ordered this.DVD because I cannot play it (I have no equipment for this) therefore I send back asking for a change to a normal DVD of Werther. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Fazekas
It is a almost an honor to be asked to view this performance.Published 14 months ago by Hopeful Mover
The performance was spectacular,the whole cast!! HATED the theater(too small)and the camera work was a disaster. Read morePublished 17 months ago by eric
Absolutely wonderful performance vocally speaking of this gorgeous piece of music, utterly spoiled by the appalling video director who thinks the audience wants to see the artists... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Mr. P. T. Bale
I have over 150 classical DVD/BRs that I watch on a 120" screen and listen through a 7.2 loudspeaker setup where the front speakers are about 9' 6" apart and the surround... Read morePublished 18 months ago by R. Kreutzer
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