Music by Jules Massenet
Libretto by Édouard Blau, Paul Milliet, and Georges Hartmann
Irresistibly melodic and extraordinarily romantic, this new production of Massenet’s Werther is set in an arrondissement outside Paris and a cinematic dreamscape inspired by the poetic realism of film director Jean Renoir. Based on Goethe’s heartbreaking novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther, the story unfolds as a dying artist recounts the love he cannot forget.
Citi Performing Arts CenterSM Shubert Theatre
Sung in French with projected English translation.
Pre-Performance Talks are given one hour before each performance and are free to all ticket holders.
Conductor David Angus
Stage Director Crystal Manich
Set Designer John Conklin
Costume Designer Deborah Newhall
Lighting Designer Paul Hackenmueller
Projection Designer Greg Emetaz
Wig And Makeup Designer Jason Allen
Surtitle Designers John Conklin & Allison Voth
Alex Richardson as Werther
Sandra Piques Eddy as Charlotte
Rachele Gilmore as Sophie
John Hancock as Albert
With Jon Jurgens, David McFerrin, and James Demler
BOSTON LYRIC OPERA ORCHESTRA
A gunshot…a life sacrificed…a love destroyed by memory, passion, and duty.
An outlying arrondissement of Paris in the late 1920s.
Werther, a poet, becomes obsessed with Charlotte, and she returns his love ecstatically. But she is forced to reject him when she learns that Albert—the man she had promised her dying mother she would marry—has returned. Their wedding proceeds and Werther is consumed with jealousy, although Albert offers understanding. Even as Werther contemplates suicide, he cannot bring himself to leave. Charlotte begs him to go, only conceding that they may meet again in a few months, at Christmas.
In the interim, Werther’s passionate letters cause Charlotte anguish and bitter remorse. She is forced to admit to herself that in spite of her struggles to forget, she loves him still. On Christmas Eve Werther returns, and she almost gives in to him but, overcome with guilt, rushes away. Werther despairingly leaves. Albert is suspicious of a visibly nervous Charlotte, and when he receives a message from Werther asking him for the loan of his pistol, as he is leaving “for a distant country,” Albert orders Charlotte to fetch the gun so he can send it with a servant. She realizes what is implied in the request, and once Albert departs she rushes to Werther, praying she will not be too late. She confesses her love as the sounds of children singing “Noel” echo outside.
Making his BLO debut as the tortured poet, Werther, Alex Richardson is known to Boston audiences through Tanglewood and Emmanuel Music, where he sang the role of Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby, and the Boston Symphony where he has soloed on numerous occasions. Upcoming engagements include a return to The Princeton Festival this summer in the title role of Peter Grimes; Tamino in Die Zauberflöte with the Orlando Philharmonic; and the Beethoven Missa Solemnis in Carnegie Hall with the Cecilia Chorus. In addition, he makes his Metropolitan Opera debut in the 2016-17 season. Recent career highlights include: the role of Alwa (cover) in Lulu at The Metropolitan Opera; Váňa Kudrjaš in Káťa Kabanová at Spoleto Festival USA; Verdi Requiem with the Oratorio Society of New York; Sam in Floyd’s Susannah with Toledo Opera; Molqi in The Death of Klinghoffer with Long Beach Opera; Steuermann in Der fliegende Holländer and Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi with The Princeton Festival; a debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a work by Dutch composer Louis Andriessen; and the U.S. première in the title role of Amleto (Hamlet) by Franco Faccio with Opera Southwest.
SANDRA PIQUES EDDY
A resident of Dedham, Massachusetts, Sandra Piques Eddy was last seen at BLO as Varvara in the 2015 production of Kátya Kabanová and also appeared as Dorabella in Così Fan Tutte, Idamante in Idomeneo, and Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly. Recent successes include Carmen at Portland Opera, Opera Colorado and Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and Rosina with Opera Omaha, Nashville Opera, and Vancouver Opera. Sandra enjoys an artistic collaboration with Tim Albery at Opera North UK, where she recently sang the title roles in Carmen and The Coronation of Poppea. Ms. Eddy is on the Metropolitan Opera’s roster this year and has sung more than 100 performances, including the role of Fiona in the US premiere production of Nico Muhly’s Two Boys, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Mercédès in Carmen (broadcast nationally on PBS, and theatrically live in HD and on DVD), Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana, and Rosette in Manon.
Rachele Gilmore has established herself as one of America’s most sought after coloratura sopranos. A regular performer in America, Europe, and Asia, she is consistently praised for being “the vocal standout” and a dynamic actress. She recently appeared as Blondchen in Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Theâtre Champs-Elysées), Alice in Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland (Los Angeles Philharmonic and BBC Symphony Orchestra) and Gilda in Rigoletto (Opera Omaha). Ms. Gilmore made her BLO debut in 2010 as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos. She is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, and received her Bachelor of Music from Indiana University and continued with graduate studies at Boston University. She was a member of the Young Artist Programs of Glimmerglass Opera, Florida Grand Opera and Aspen Music Festival’s Opera Center, and was a winner in Placid Domingo’s Operalia World Opera Contest in Paris. She can be seen this summer as Ninetta in La gazza ladra at the Glimmerglass Festival.
Acclaimed for his refined vocalism and theatrical versatility, baritone John Hancock makes his BLO debut as Albert in Werther. His past credits include Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, Falke in Die Fledermaus, Albert in Werther, Brétigny in Manon, Capulet in Roméo et Juliette, both Marcello and Schaunard in La bohème (Metropolitan Opera), Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Yeletsky in Queen of Spades, and Lescaut in Manon Lescaut (San Francisco Opera). He has also sung leading roles with companies including Washington National Opera, New Israeli Opera, Opéra du Rhin, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, and Cincinnati Opera. Mr. Hancock is a graduate of the Juilliard Opera Center, where he was winner of the Richard F. Gold Grant presented by the Shoshana Foundation. He also is the grateful recipient of grants and prizes from the Metropolitan Opera National Council, the Loren L. Zachary Society and the Sullivan Foundation.
Baritone James Demler is known for his versatile range of repertory, spanning the operatic, oratorio, concert, and popular music genres. He has received critical acclaim for his roles as Peter in Hansel and Gretel and DeBretigny in Manon (Houston Grand Opera), Sharpless in Madama Butterfly (Edmonton Opera), Danilo in The Merry Widow (Palm Beach Opera) and Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro (Arizona Opera). His BLO credits include Dikoj in Kátya Kabanová, as soloist with the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, and Assassin in Macbeth. Mr. Demler has been heard as soloist with the Houston Symphony, Orchestra of St. Lukes, The National Arts Centre Orchestra of Ottawa, Opera Orchestra of New York, and The Boston Pops. He has presented solo recitals at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, Princeton University, Pepperdine University, and at Boston University, where he has been a full-time member of the voice faculty since 2005
David McFerrin is a BLO Jane & Steven Akin Emerging Artist alumnus who has appeared in numerous Company productions, including Opera Annex productions The Love Potion, Lizzie Borden, and Clemency, and at the Shubert Theatre in Madama Butterfly, Kátya Kabanová and Agrippina. This Season, he appeared with BLO as the Officer in Philips Glass’ In the Penal Colony and will appear next month as Cascada in Lehár’s The Merry Widow. His other opera credits include Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Opera, Florida Grand Opera, and the Rossini Festival in Wildbad, Germany. As a concert soloist, Mr. McFerrin has sung with Gustavo Dudamel and the Israel Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall, with the early music ensemble TENET at the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico, and with the Boston Pops. This season’s concert highlights include debuts with the Vermont Symphony and chamber orchestra A Far Cry, and solo appearances with the Handel and Haydn Society during its bicentennial season.
Jon Jurgens has established himself as a versatile young talent with a wide range of repertoire. Most recently, he performed the title role in The Picture of Dorian Gray (Opera Fayetteville) and the roles of Rodolfo in La Bohème (Opera Raw) and Don Jose in Carmen (Opera Neo). As a studio artist with Sarasota Opera, he has also sung the roles of Curley in Of Mice and Men, Borsa in Rigoletto and has covered Edoardo in Un giorno di regno and the Duke in Rigoletto. Jon was highly acclaimed as Tristan in BLO’s 2014 production of The Love Potion, and earlier that year he made his company debut as Gastone, while covering Alfredo, in La Traviata. Mr. Jurgens completed his graduate work at The Ohio State University, where he performed the title role in the American stage premiere of Handel’s Faramondo.
David Angus has just extended his contract for a third time as the Music Director of Boston Lyric Opera, where he conducts the majority of the productions each year and oversees all musical matters. He is also the Honorary Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of Flanders, following several years as its Principal Conductor, when he played a major part in establishing it as Belgium’s most exciting and successful new orchestra. Previously he was the Music Director of Glimmerglass Opera in New York state. David Angus conducts concerts and opera throughout Europe, and broadcasts frequently on BBC Radio 3 and abroad in Austria, Ireland, Holland, Denmark, Italy, and Belgium. Plans for this season, apart from his work at BLO, include choral music by Elgar and Macmillan with the Huddersfield Choral Society and the BBC Philharmonic, two CD recordings (with the London Philharmonic and with the orchestra of Opera North ) and concerts in the USA, the UK, Sweden and Italy.
Crystal Manich is pleased to return to Boston Lyric Opera following a successful production of I Puritani in 2014. She has been hailed by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other major publications for “lively” and “imaginative staging.” Later in 2016 she will direct Haydn’s Armida for her debut at Pinchgut Opera in Sydney, Australia, in addition to making a return to Buenos Aires Lírica, Argentina, with Verdi’s Ernani. She will direct Handel’s Agrippina for New England Conservatory in April, and Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila at Tulsa Opera. As a practitioner of presenting baroque works in non-traditional performance spaces, she directed productions of The Coronation of Poppea, Giasone and The Return of Ulysses with Opera Omnia, a New York City-based company she co-founded. Her past credits include more than 30 productions at Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Columbus, American Opera Projects, Center for Contemporary Opera, Utah Opera, North Carolina Opera, Opera Roanoke, Ash Lawn Opera, Bay View Festival, St. Petersburg Opera, and Lyric Opera Baltimore. She also served as assistant artistic director of Cirque du Soleil’s Quidam in Brazil. Crystal is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University.
John Conklin has designed sets on and off -Broadway, at the Kennedy Center, and for opera companies around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Seattle Opera, San Francisco Opera, Bastille Opera in Paris, the Royal Opera and the opera houses of Munich, Amsterdam, and Bologna, among others. Locally, his work has been seen in Boston Lyric Opera’s I Puritani (2014), The Magic Flute (2013), Madama Butterfly (2012), and Macbeth (2011), as well as at the American Repertory Theatre and Boston Ballet. Additionally, Mr. Conklin works to develop lecture series and community events for BLO that enrich the audience experience and strengthen the presence of opera in Boston’s arts community. He is on the faculty at New York University’s Tisch School and was a recipient of the 2011 NEA Opera Honors.
Returning to BLO for Werther, Deborah Newhall’s costumes have been seen on the stages of Merrimack Repertory Theatre (The Outgoing Tide), 59E59 Theater’s Love Song as well as on screen for David O. Russell’s American Hustle, PBS’ The American Experience: The Abolitionists, Josh Radnor’s Liberal Arts, Actors Theater of Louisville, The Public Theater, Goodspeed Opera House, Studio Arena, Trinity Rep, Radio City Rockettes, Boston Ballet, and at WGBH- ZOOM, for which she has received two Emmy nominations. She previously designed costumes for several BLO productions, including Regina, Lost in the Stars, Wuthering Heights, and La Bohème.
Lighting designer Paul Hackenmeuller returns to Boston Lyric Opera having previously worked on several BLO productions, including I Puritani and Tosca. His broad range of work includes lighting musical artists such as Katy Perry, Beyonce, Bruno Mars, Tony Bennett, and Justin Timberlake as well as consulting to corporate clients including Target, Carlson Companies, and Wells Fargo. In addition to work with many regional theaters and more than ten Broadway productions, Mr. Hackenmueller’s recent and upcoming opera work includes work with The Dallas Opera, Rome Opera, Bucharest National, Minnesota Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Colorado, and Gotham Chamber Opera.
Making his BLO debut, Greg Emetaz’s work as a video designer for the stage includes Bel Canto at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Dolores Claiborne (world premiere) at San Francisco Opera, Champion (world premiere), Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland (American premiere), The Death of Klinghoffer and The Golden Ticket (world premiere) at Opera Theater of Saint Louis, Ajax at American Repertory Theater and Wallace Shawn’s The Music Teacher. He created the behind-the-scenes documentary of Julie Taymor’s feature film The Tempest, as well as promotional documentaries for the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and numerous productions at New York City Opera and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.
WIG AND MAKEUP DESIGNER
Jason Allen has been BLO’s Resident Wig and Makeup Designer since 2003. A fixture of the Boston performing arts community, he also works with Huntington Theatre Company, Boston Ballet and many other organizations in Boston and throughout the country.
BOSTON LYRIC OPERA ORCHESTRA
Sandra Kott, Concertmaster
Annie Rabbat, Solos
Colin Davis, Acting Principal
Kenneth Stalberg, Principal
Loewi Lin, Principal
Robert Lynam, Principal
Linda Toote, Principal
Nancy Dimock, Principal
Jan Halloran, Principal
Elah Grandel, Acting Principal
Kevin Owen, Principal
Jesse Levine, Acting Principal
John Faieta, Acting Principal
Taka Hagiwara, Acting Principal
John Tanzer, Acting Principal
Craig McNutt, Acting Principal
Ina Zdorovetchi, Principal
Stephen Lipsitt, Music Director
In The Wings
Backstage glimpses with Boston Lyric Opera
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The former New Mexico high school state champion in springboard diving is currently singing the title role in Massenet’s Werther…more »
Reviews and Photos
The Reviews are In!
“A smart and dramatic new production” – Boston Classical Review
“Alex Richardson [held] the stage with a warm and flexible tenor … Sandra Piques Eddy delivers a sympathetic and well-sung Charlotte” – The Boston Globe
“A thrilling experience… It helps to have such great acting singers such as Alex Richardson in the title role, and the beautifully-voiced Sandra Piques Eddy.” – South Shore Critic
Photos by Eric Antoniou