Werther

Jules Massenet - Autumn 2015

Certainly the greatest of Massenet’s many operas, Werther has all the elegance and charm that distinguishes this composer, but also a raw emotional impact than none of the others achieve.

Arranged and conducted by 
Iain Farrington
Director 
Oliver Platt
Designer 
Oliver Townsend
Lighting Designer 
Mark Howland

Iain Farrington has done an outstanding job in retaining the spirit of the original in his skillful chamber rescoring… A rewarding evening.

Guardian

The staging looks intelligent: Oliver Platt and his designer Oliver Townsend have moved the setting to Midwest America in the Fifties, establishing an atmosphere of Norman Rockwell cosiness in which Charlotte presents as the perfect cookie-baking wife for a GI husband Albert (Simon Wallfisch). Michael Druiett is her amiable Pop and Lauren Zolezzi her sweet kid sister Sophie – both of them excellent.

Telegraph

Iain Farrington’s reduction for piano, violin, cello and clarinet is very attractive, and under his own direction it’s immaculately played.

WhatsOnStage

Based on the great classic novel by Goethe that took Europe by storm, Werther is an entirely domestic story of an apparently idyllic middle class family, torn apart by uncontrollable passion. The opera is dominated by the handsome, over-sensitive young artist (played by emerging talent Ed Ballard, and sung in the special version for baritone prepared by the composer) and the lovely Charlotte (Carolyn Dobbin), who is engaged to be married to his friend Albert (Simon Wallfisch).

Rarely in opera is the destructive power of love felt so close to the bone – and rarely, too, has the innocence and sweetness of a young family at Christmas been so touchingly depicted. An opera for anyone who confesses to having a feeling or two, for those who are drawn to artists, to nature or to poetry, Werther is a veritable whirlwind.

Musically, ETO’s new version promises to be extraordinary. Iain Farrington is preparing an intimate arrangement for a salon ensemble that will be on stage, in the room with the singers.

New production, sung in English
English translation by Norman Tucker
Running time: 2 hours 22 minutes (including interval)
Age guidance: 10+

Ed Ballard sings “Why Rouse Me from My Sleep”

Discover more

Iain Farrington and Simon Wallfisch perform live on BBC Radio 3 In Tune (October 2015). Courtesy of BBC Radio 3.

• Director’s notes: Exploring the set design for Werther
10 questions for baritone Ed Ballard

Season podcast and music playlist

Showing At

  1. Royal College of Music
    2nd Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  2. Royal College of Music
    8th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  3. Buxton Opera House
    18th Oct 2015 - 3:00 pm
  4. Malvern Theatres
    24th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  5. Gala Theatre, Durham
    26th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  6. Harrogate Theatre
    29th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  7. West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge
    5th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm
  8. Snape Maltings Concert Hall
    12th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm
  9. Exeter Northcott Theatre
    18th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm
  1. Royal College of Music — 2nd Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm

    Prince Consort Road, London, SW7 2BS

  2. Royal College of Music — 8th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm

    Prince Consort Road, London, SW7 2BS

  3. Buxton Opera House — 18th Oct 2015 - 3:00 pm

    Water Street, SK17 6XN

  4. Malvern Theatres — 24th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm

    Malvern Theatres, Grange Road, Malvern, Worcestershire, WR14 3HB

  5. Gala Theatre, Durham — 26th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm

    1 Millennium Place, Town Centre, Durham, DH1 1WA

  6. Harrogate Theatre — 29th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm

    Harrogate Theatre, Oxford Street, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1 1QF

  7. West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge — 5th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm

    11 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DP

  8. Snape Maltings Concert Hall — 12th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm

    Aldeburgh Music, Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Snape, Suffolk, IP17 1SP

  9. Exeter Northcott Theatre — 18th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm

    Exeter Northcott, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QB

Iain Farrington

Iain Farrington

Arranged and conducted by

Oliver Platt

Oliver Platt

Director

Oliver Townsend

Oliver Townsend

Designer

Mark Howland

Mark Howland

Lighting Designer

Cast

Ed Ballard

Ed Ballard

Werther

Carolyn Dobbin

Carolyn Dobbin

Charlotte

Carrickfergus born mezzo- soprano and Samling scholar, trained at the RSAMD and on the YAP of OTC in Dublin in 2006.

Carolyn has worked with many UK and Swiss Opera companies. Repertoire includes, Lucretia/ The Rape of Lucretia, Carmen, Alisa / Lucia di Lammermoor, Bradamante / Alcina, Teodata / Flavio, Lisetta / Il mondo della luna, Dorabella / Così fan tutte( radio3), Second Lady / The Magic Flute, Idamante/Idomeno, Nicklaus / The Tales of Hoffmann, Dido and First Witch / Dido and Aeneas, Ottavia/ The coronation of Poppea, Cherubino / La nozze di Figaro, Concepcion / L’heure espagnole, Orlofsky / Die Fledermaus and Maddalena / Rigoletto, flora / La traviata, Janet / The Doctor’s Tale for ROH2, Scipio / Caligula (radio3) and Hannah / The Passenger both for ENO, Andronico / Tamerlano, Meg Page / Falstaff for OHP, Emilia / Otello for DO, Maddalena / Rigoletto and Polina/ Pique Dame for GPO. During 2010 Carolyn was a WNO Associate Artist and the recipient of the WNO Chris Ball Bursary and the Sir John Moores Award.
Her recordings include Lynne Plowman’s Cries Like Silence (London Mozart Players).

Roles at Lucerne Theatre – Penelope / Il ritorno d’Ulisse, Annio / La clemenza di Tito, Tisbe / La cenerentola, Lidwina/ Fraulein Bixel und Herr Glück, Flora Bervoix / La traviata. Bradamante/ Alcina, and the title role of Carmen. She made her debut for Bern Stadtheater as Annina & Flora/ La Traviata.
Recent and future engagements include the roles of Polina/Pique Dame, Emilia in Rossinis Othello -Buxton Festival, Elgars ‘Dream of Gerontius’ ,Title role The rape of Lucretia for IYO, Fatima/ Oberon NSO, The Page / Salome for OperaNI and The Verdi Requiem, Third Lady in Magic flute in Switzerland, Angelina in La Cenerentola, Devils jukebox for ON, and the role of Charlotte in Werther for ETO. www.carolyndobbin.com

Lauren Zolezzi

Lauren Zolezzi

Sophie

Michael Druiett

Michael Druiett

Le Bailli

Jeffrey Stewart

Jeffrey Stewart

Johann Schmidt

Highlights of his work in the United Kingdom include Tamino/ Die Zauberflöte (Opera Northern Ireland); Rinuccio/ Gianni Schicchi, Nemorino/ L’Elisir D’Amore, Edgardo/ Lucia Di Lammermoor, Federico/ L’Arlesiana (all for OHP); Pinkerton Madama Butterfly (Raymond Gubbay Ltd, Royal Albert Hall), and appearances with ON and ENO. He made his debut at Covent Garden as Conte Ivrea in Verdi Un Giorno Di Regno. International credits include Ernesto/ Don Pasquale (Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Düsseldorf); title role/ Les Contes D’Hoffmann; Alfred/ Die Fledermaus; Alfredo/ La Traviata. A regular oratorio and recital performer, his appearances have included all the major London venues, as well as debuts in Dublin, Vienna, Budapest, Paris, Belgium, Italy and the USA including acclaimed performances of Schumann’s Dichterliebe. For ETO Jeffrey has previously sung Duca/ Rigoletto and Nadir/ Les Pecheurs De Perles.

Simon Wallfisch

Simon Wallfisch

Albert

Showing At

  1. Royal College of Music
    2nd Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  2. Royal College of Music
    8th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  3. Buxton Opera House
    18th Oct 2015 - 3:00 pm
  4. Malvern Theatres
    24th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  5. Gala Theatre, Durham
    26th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  6. Harrogate Theatre
    29th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  7. West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge
    5th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm
  8. Snape Maltings Concert Hall
    12th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm
  9. Exeter Northcott Theatre
    18th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm

This season we are delighted to be working with groups of children around the country who will play the younger siblings of Charlotte and Sophie in Werther. The children come from schools, via music hubs and from performing arts groups attached to the venues we visit. Each group received their music and a learning CD before the summer holidays, and will rehearse with us in advance of their performance. For many, it will be their first experience of opera, so we look forward to nurturing the undiscovered opera stars of the future!

The groups are as follows:

  • London: Vauxhall Primary School
  • Buxton: Buxton Opera House Young Company
  • Malvern: Great Malvern Primary School
  • Durham: Gala Theatre Stage School
  • Harrogate: Harrogate Youth Singing
  • Cambridge: Milton Road Primary School
  • Snape: Members of Jubilee Opera, from Coldfair Green Primary School
  • Exeter: Countess Wear Community School

Don’t miss a chance to support your local youngsters in this production. We heartily thank all the teachers and coordinators around the country for preparing their groups.

Your Comments

  1. I understand that Ed Ballard (A BARITONE) is playing the title role of WERTHER written for a TENOR!!!
    Your comments would be appreciated.

    Said michael harris at 11:12am on 29th Mar 2015

  2. Hi Michael, thanks for your comment. We are performing the baritone version, which Massenet wrote in 1902 for Mattia Battistini. This version does not transpose the tenor part down. Massenet rewrote the part, but did not change any other vocal or orchestral music - so the changes affect only the vocal line for the title character. There are no other changes to the words, to the lines for other characters, or to the orchestration.

    Said Andrea (ETO) at 10:13am on 30th Mar 2015

  3. Saw at Snape. Was wonderful.
    I did feel the 'chomp' of the piano ivories in parts rather masked the chomp of the consonants of Werther's teeth if you forgive the simplicity employed - and made it difficult to hear his English words. A few less notes when the Baritone was at work and it would have been perfect - but it is difficult to form a view on the whole sound spectrum of chamber versions unless you're in the audience - so no complaints!

    Said Gar at 16:58pm on 16th Nov 2015

  4. Not an opera I would normally have chosen to go to but the visit to Snape was well worth the car journey. Excellent singing wonderfully supported by the on stage quartet who were the stars of the show for me. (What a clever version of the score !) It was a good job that the plot was so simple as it was impossible to distinguish most of the words and so details and any possible subtleties were lost. Nevertheless, a more rewarding evening than I had expected. Looking forward to the Spring tour.

    Said Mervyn Pearson at 09:03am on 18th Nov 2015

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