Monday 18 February 2013 George Hall
Massenetís romantic tragedy joins Scottish Opera repertoire in a new staging by up-and-coming director Pia Furtado. Designer Helen Goddardís costumes suggest a period closer to the opera itself (1892) than to the late-18th-century setting of Goetheís novel, but the story of an outsider artist whose love for a married woman drives him to suicide comes over with intense power.
Furtadoís detailed direction is responsive to the alternately delicate and passionate score, though the idea of having Werther watch action in which he is not involved does occasionally become intrusive. Nevertheless, this is an impressive main-stage debut.
Her cast is unimpeachably fine from a dramatic point of view while vocally, too, the standard is high. US tenor Jonathan Boyd stars in the title role. If he lacks ideal power at the climaxes, his sensitivity and sense of style, added to his youth and good looks, make him near ideal as the doomed artist failing to secure a place in bourgeois society. Rejecting him for a man she does not love, Hungarian mezzo Viktoria Vizin makes a fully engaged Charlotte, her lush voice highlighting her characterís inner division. Roland Wood sings the dull but worthy Albert, his tone rich and his characterisation entirely three-dimensional. As Charlotte’s younger sister Sophie, Irish soprano Anna Devin blends charm with vulnerability and sings immaculately. Jonathan Best makes a great deal of Charlotteís widowed father, while the group of children is perfect.
Scottish Operaís music director Francesco Corti conducts a superior account of this late-Romantic masterpiece, with the companyís orchestra on exceptional form.