Dearest Opera Lovers,
When the Kentucky Opera 2008-2009 season was announced, a good friend of mine told me that if anyone missed the opportunity to attend one of the performances of Massenet’s Werther (and I quote) “you might as well go hang yourself.” Although I laughed wholeheartedly at his remark, I never thought that his prediction would be so prophetic. Indeed one needs to mourn and subsequently head for the gallows if by any chance he or she missed the opportunity to attend. Werther was by far the best offering this season has exhibited.
It would be futile on my part to try and explain through mortal words this sensational presentation by Kentucky Opera. I was fortunate to attend both performances; thus, I will simply touch upon specific key points. A big bravo to maestro Mechavich for his brilliant interpretation of Massenet’s score; it was touching, alive and without exaggeration. Mr. Kaplan’s costumes were exceptional as always. The direction under Ms. McIntyre created an absolutely dream-like atmosphere (especially with the phenomenal lighting). Ms. McIntyre completely “got it” as far as the heart of this French opera is concerned. Forget about the grandeur of Italian opera and the bombastic “over the head” pounding of German opera. The direction reflected the spirit of the concise, slow unfolding, soft, passionate yet restrained character of French opera which dives into a study of the individual soul and turmoil of the characters and builds slowly but gradually until the end when catharsis is achieved. The ones in attendance only need to bring to mind the bloody letters swirling in the snow, drifting away in the wind denoting the suicide attempt of Werther. Brilliant!! Mrs. Batton and Mr. Sorenson were absolutely breathtaking and exhibited talent which is at the highest level of today’s opera standards. I happen to possess this opera in a three vinyl set with interpretations by renowned Metropolitan Opera stars Jose Carreras and Frederica Von Stade. Mrs. Batton and Mr. Sorenson’s performances have nothing to be jealous of their Metropolitan counterparts. The same holds true for Ms. Vuong who electrified the theater as Sophie as well as the children’s choir which was delightful. Tenors Mr. Angell, Mr. Robinson, Mr. Collins, Mr. Cook and Mr. Sheehan did a wonderful job to complete a very successful performance.
Unfortunately, this is the point where my review takes a different tone…a tone of disappointment for a number of distasteful and out of line comments made by our respected arts critic Mr. Adler. Where should I begin? This time there are too many to mention. I will not spend too much time elaborating on his Werther review calling the tenors “mediocre” because it is obvious by now Mr. Adler and I disagree on our assessment of the talent that these young tenors bring to our
Christos “The Wagnerian” Dimitriadis
Edited with the help of Miss S.