Werther went on to become one of the composer’s most frequently staged works. Film director Benoît Jacquot’s 2011 production at the Royal Opera House was conducted by the company’s music director, Antonio Pappano, an interpreter of great flexibility and dramatic insight. As the Financial Times wrote, “the outstanding conducting of Antonio Pappano, working with a Royal Opera orchestra on top form, made sure that … Massenet’s opera blazed vividly into life.” It was undoubtedly Pappano’s unique artistry that laid the bedrock for a highly successful musical performance. Rolando Villazón sang the title part, one of opera’s great outsider figures and one of the Mexican tenor’s signature roles, which he first assumed in Nice in 2006 and later at the Vienna Opera in 2008 as well as in Paris; the opera also marked his directorial debut in Lyon in 2011. Of Villazón’s return to Covent Garden for this performance, the Guardian critic wrote: “His artistry is as astonishing as ever, fusing sound, sense and gesture in an uncompromising quest for veracity.” Alongside him the French mezzo Sophie Koch sang the tragically conflicted Charlotte – for her, too, a kind of signature role in which she has been acclaimed in Vienna, Madrid and Paris as well as London. The Japanese Eri Nakamura personified Charlotte’s spirited younger sister Sophie, the Norwegian baritone Audun Iversen her unloved husband Albert, and the distinguished French baritone Alain Vernhes her solidly bourgeois father, the Bailiff.
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Original Release Date: February 3, 2012