Critic’s Choice

By Lawrence Budmen

Goethe: Werther Painting; Goethe: Werther Art Print for sale

Aside from Carmen and The Tales of Hoffmann, French opera has been a rarity in South Florida. This weekend Florida Grand Opera opens its season-closing run (in Miami and Fort Lauderdale) of Jules Massenet’s Werther, one of the greatest of French romantic operas.

Based on a novel by Goethe, the tale of the lovelorn poet Werther and the married Charlotte, who shares but cannot return his love, is filled with passionate and memorable melodies. The tenor aria “Pourquoi me réveiller” has long been a vocal recital standard. While the opera fell off the repertoire radar in recent decades, a new generation of tenors has taken up the title role and there have been several production at major houses in recent years.

The Greek-American tenor Dimitri Pittas sings Werther for the first time in the FGO production. Rising mezzo Daniela Mack plays Charlotte. Two members of the FGO Young Artists Studio sing crucial roles–Evan Kardon is Sophie (Charlotte’s sister) and Benjamin Dickerson plays Albert, Charlotte’s husband. Veteran bass-baritone Jake Gardner cameos as The Baliff, Charlotte’s father. Joseph Mechavich conducts.

Unusually for opera in South Florida, FGO is producing its own new and original production, directed by Lawrence Edelson with sets and lighting by Michael Baumgarten.

Florida Grand Opera presents Werther 7 p.m. Saturday, 8 p.m. April 30 and May 2, and 2 p.m. May 5 at the Arsht Center in Miami; 7:30 p.m. May 9 and 11 at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale.; 800-741-1010.

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Wed Apr 24, 2019
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