Übersetzung der El Mercurio Kritik
Juan Antonio Muñoz H., from New York
Massenet: Werther, Metropolitan Opera, 7. März 2014
The "scenic innocence” of Jonas Kaufmann’s anthological “Werther”
Jonas Kaufmann triumphs in New York with his "Werther" (Jules Massenet). He had already sung it in Paris, Vienna and Mannheim, but in this city he highlights his success to a point in which he politely sends other famous Werthers to an antique fair.
Through this extraordinary German tenor, the characters speak to our times, whether the staging is “avant-garde” or “traditional”. It just so happens that Kaufmann allows the opera to have access to a new stage. Maybe that is his stature and importance, far beyond the praise to which his image and versatility give rise to.

Werther is a very demanding role, particularly because in order to interpret it correctly, the singer must depict contradictory aspects. What does Kaufmann do? He takes this as a starting point, knowing that the composer, in his encounter with this suicidal poet dreamt by Goethe, took into account emotional ambiguity. It is this aspect which Massenet reflected in a score of lyrical and harmonic suggestive power.

Already from this point, complexity haunts the central character. Kaufmann, through his vivid imagination, manages to achieve that his good looks seem indifferent but still remain central to the whole creation; he builds a passionate poet who does not realize what he is and through this sort of “scenic innocence”, a naïve and misleading gesture stems from him that shakes up the audience.

The artist is capable of stepping back and keeping his opinion on the character to let him live in that gray area in which Werther moves, a mixture of intense ardor and slight melancholy, of wild virility and tenderness, set on a mixed voice which all of a sudden thunders as Tristan, and then fades away to the point of nullifying the color, as if he were singing with his last breath.

Thus, Kaufmann’s Werther lives, from start to finish, in a strange balance where coexist an almost pantheistic contemplation of nature which reaches nearly a levitation point, the imperative need to live and a death desire, extroversion and self-absorption, sexual desire and candor, the raging force of Mars and the vulnerability of Paris.

The French mezzo, Sophie Koch, is a compelling Charlotte: refined, soft, obstinate, and at the same time, hesitant, confused and anguished. Contradictory in the end, as Werther himself. The four duets of the central couple were a melting pot of subtlety, particularly the last one, of a shattering sadness. Great work by soprano Lisette Oropesa (Sophie), who creates an adorable and coherent character, whereas the baritone David Bizic is cold and distant as Albert.

Richard Eyre’s production will be to the liking of the audience because let’s say it is "traditional", although it incorporates the use of cutting-edge technology to indicate the passage of the seasons and to show some scenes in retrospect. Eyre chooses to tell us everything and for that reason, he stages during the prelude the death and funeral of Charlotte’s mother; moments of the ball attended by the protagonists and at the end Werther’s hesitation before committing suicide (he first points his gun at his head, then repents and finally, in an impulse, shoots his heart). The opera does not need all of this, but it is probably needed by an important part of the Met’s and the world’s audience.

With scenery and rich costumes by Bob Howell, this production seeks to fuse the boundaries between nature and home life, between interior and exterior. The architecture also, through the use of broken arcs, bent and oblique lines, shows that affections are not altogether good in the Bailiff’s house, which certainly looks more luxurious than what is to be expected.

The French conductor, Alain Altinoglu, addresses the score with beautiful moderation and achieves a flexible interpretation, of deep textures and multiple nuances.

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