Lepage's Das Rheingold at the Met Media Round-Up
General Director of WNO

Another Look at SF Opera's Werther

SF Opera's Werther Act II, photo by Cory Weaver * Notes *
The San Francisco Opera's penultimate performance of Werther this season was held yesterday evening. From balcony standing room, the balances between the singers and the orchestra were better. Emmanuel Villaume did keep the orchestra together, the sound was gleaming and rich. The chorus of children was also lovely.

It was apparent that all the singers have such beautiful voices, from Susannah Biller in the tiny role of Kätchen, to the title role sung by Ramón Vargas. Perhaps both Vargas and Alice Coote (Charlotte) are more compelling in other repertoire, however they nonetheless were very pleasant to hear.

The set does look rather different from the balcony, many of the projections are lost, but one can see the shadows of the tree branches on the ground in the last scene. The many staircases are also more evident from above. The production is definitely weird and does not follow Goethe's text in a literal sense. This said, I did find the whole thing strangely attractive. Perhaps because I do not care for this novella in the first place, the departures from it did not bother me.

* Tattling * 
The balcony looked fairly full, but I was offered a seat more than once. Unfortunately, since there were empty seats, the audience felt comfortable getting up and moving over during the Act III overture. There was some talking and watch alarms. The most disruptive moments were when people unwrapped their candies during key points in the music. No matter how quiet one tries to be, cellophane always seems to be very loud, and doing this slowly just drags out the noise over a longer period of time. I was especially annoyed when this happened during the Letter Aria.