Feb 1, 2023 - Things to Do

Review: "Werther" at the Houston Grand Opera

Photo of a man on stage with a large door and a woman in a white dress.

"Werther." Photo: Michael Bishop, courtesy of HGO

The Houston Grand Opera has brought back "Werther" for the first time in over four decades.

Driving the opera: The tragic love story is about Werther instantly falling in love with angelic Charlotte, who is already betrothed to someone else.

  • The obsessed and lovesick Werther is unable to imagine a life without Charlotte, and the opera shows his descent into depression and suicide.

If you go: The opera runs till Feb. 10, and tickets range from $20 to $210.

👋 Shafaq here! If it wasn't for the magnificent score and the compelling actors, I would have been bored.

  • I understand why "Werther" has been performed only a handful of times across the country in the past decade.
  • The opera depicted depression and suicide in a black-and-white way that lacked depth and downplayed the seriousness of the mental illness.
  • It is essentially a sob story about a man whining about the unfairness of not getting the woman, and asks the audience to empathize with him.

Between the lines: "Werther" — which depicts the love interest Charlotte as a flat, 2D character who is left with unfair guilt and burden — fails to fit into this season's theme of female power.

Plus: Even with four acts and two intermissions, the plot lacked a strong exposition, which made me struggle to understand Werther's feelings.

The bottom line: I'd skip this production, unless you're a diehard tragic opera fan. But if you already have tickets, you'll at least be entertained by Jules Massenet's dazzling score.


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