[excerpts from the web site of Roberto Alagna]
February 17, 2014 was the release date of this Werther at Deutsche Grammophon -Universal – Music Classic & Jazz France. This DVD offers an accurate and rigorous work’s reading and staging. Pre-ordered, eagerly awaited, and desired by many, that Werther, immortalized in the 2005 staging at the Teatro Regio of Turin, is now finally in record stores. […]
The masterpiece by the great Massenet is in nature free of spectacular settings. It becomes a rich show made of many close ups and facial expressions, thanks to the polished dramatic staging of David Alagna, also involving his brother Frederico, a gifted sculptor, graphic artist and painter, as well as thanks to the perfect image pickup used for the video production. From their common work arose also elegant, sometimes subtly sumptuous and upsetting scenes, contributing to the overall beauty of this production. Yet one should not be misled by a seeming compliance with the traditional “classical” canons. The Alagna brothers are clearly offering an extremely contemporary Werther, regarding as well the literal reading of the score itself as the staging performance.
The beautiful Kate Aldrich as Charlotte, dazzling with a voice perfectly suited to the role, is often also a feast for the eyes …but the perfect performance of Roberto Alagna as the main protagonist firstly deserves to be emphasized, if ever necessary: even if the video takes us a few years back, he stands as the best Werther it can be on contemporary opera stages.
How not to keep still in our eyes and ears the memorable performance at the Opera National de Paris Bastille in late January / early February 2014, shortly before the DVD release ? But these are two sides of a same medal. If still needed, it proves with no doubt how perfectly the singer is mastering the vocal and acting featuring of Werther for almost 10 years now, but also how he is continuously seeking for new approaches to his character. Thanks to this permanent renewal, Werther is certainly one of the most moving and accomplished role in Alagna’s Repertoire.
Regarding the voice of the famous tenor, only one adjective is called for: “brilliant”, as well in phrasing as in the singing line and expressiveness. With his voice, especially when he is singing in French, Alagna was and is able to do just what he wants, and it’s obvious: a feast for ears and minds […] His Werther is deeply committed, youthful, expressive and credible as usual, tempestuous and passionate, never too sweet, occasionally proud. He doesn’t die of weariness but of the depressive part of his soul. […] And yet is he able to give himself up to the happy scene of communion with nature, so serene at the beginning at Act 1, typically romantic and distinctive of Goethe’s character.
Werther, that’s it. It may bring a thousand other sophisticated reviews, but the reading key to the staging set the Alagna brothers have chosen, is the rightest and the most faithful to Hugo’s spirit. […] The whole production is marked by a high level of touching realism, perfectly suitable for Roberto’s featuring. He takes it over and transcends it, reaching the heights in the personal and unique embodying of the character.
Werther in this DVD is so rich, in regard to both music and visual aesthetic, that it should be watched a few times to fully appreciate all its specificity and beauty.
An excellent multimedia item, of highly refined quality: we strongly recommend!