Werther takes Chicago on a psychological emotional love roller-coaster at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Werther, a French opera written in 1892 and set in the 1700s, is regularly performed in Europe but rarely makes its way to America. As a very special treat, it currently has made its way to Lyric Opera of Chicago for the first time since 1978 and will be there until November 26th.

Lyric Opera of Chicago has taken this opera to the stage only twice in the span of its existence. This is a surprise, seeing as the story is still relevant even though the story was written quite sometime ago; the audience can relate to the story and have had similar life-conflicting situations as Werther and Charlotte have had throughout the story.

Werther is a poetic psychological drama love story about the love between Charlotte and Werther that shortly becomes disrupted by the arrival of Charlotte’s arranged marriage by her deceased mother. Leaving Werther high and dry, without anything to live for, the poet emotionally spirals downward into feeling he has no purpose to live. Upon realizing she loves Werther, Charlotte ends up being too late and by the time she reaches him he has made up his mind.

Sir Andrew Davis music director for Lyric Opera, conductor of Werther, does a magnificent job providing a beautiful score with perfect timing and direction, giving the audience a beautiful journey through the story that is memorable throughout.

Francisco Negrin, the director of Werther previously directed the opera Rinaldo for The Lyric Opera. Negrin kept the costumes of Werther true to the setting of the 1700s but completely modernized the set design, keeping it simple but very elegant. He did a very impressive job with blocking and using depth of the stage design to portray the story in a very precise way.  As seen in the photo gallery, Negrin made the set metallic, incorporating projectors, and the manipulation of lights and lines to portray the audience the entrapment that had imprisoned the true love between Charlotte and Werther.

Matthew Polenzani is an internationally acclaimed tenor originally from Wilmette, IL, who performs all over the world and has been brought back to Chicago for this production.  He's renowned for his French opera roles and for his glorious singing and very passionate acting. It’s a very special honor to have been spoiled by Sophie Koch, a French mezzo-soprano playing the role of Charlotte, as she makes her first appearance in America for this production.

The relationship between Sophie Koch and Matthew Polenzani was very well-played and provided the audience with some great acting. The two have only sung together in a concert previously to this production.

One of the highlights of the show is a dream sequence in which Charlotte has a conflicting dream, suffering because of her abandoned love for Werther. The dream sequence involves a duet between Sophie and Matthew, that was beautifully done and grasped the audience emotionally with a very solid performance.

Werther at Lyric Opera of Chicago is a very special treat.

Werther leaves the audience in tears; blown away, grasping for more until suddenly it’s over and the desire to see it again is there.

Photos: Courtesy of Dan Rest AND Robert Kusel/Lyric Opera of Chicago
For more information check out: http://www.lyricopera.org