Album: Antonio Pappano, Rolando Villazon, Sophie Koch, Massenet: Werther (Deutsche Grammophon)


For a two-hour opera, not an awful lot happens in Werther – boy is denied girl, and sulks his way to suicide – but the status of Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther as the foundation stone of Romantic self-absorption means Massenet's opera is more character study than narrative.

Rolando Villazón dies spectacularly well, navigating the arc from infatuation to despair to determination. Sophie Koch excels as the remorseful Charlotte reading Werther's letters, while Villazón gets the best tune for Werther's recital of lines from Ossian, before indulging in surely one of the longest deaths in opera. Not a dry eye in the house.

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