Re: strange setting but when was there a traditional one?
This was part of a summer opera festival in Lyons in 1979, and so one of the earlier televised operas. It caught Neil Shicoff in glorious voice. Teresa Braganza was not a member of the festival cast, but was brought in because of the promised telecast. The set designers look almighty pleased with themselves when they take their curtain call, but I had to buy three pirate copies in order to find one that was clear enough to tell me what some of the set was supposed to look like. The idea of Werther finding a sort of child doppleganger in one of Charlotte's little brothers,who dresses like Werther, does not sing or intrude into the story, but watches him intensely, is odd but interesting. He seems to represent Werther's hopes of finding someone who will love and accept him, as the boy is loved and accepted. When Charlotte rebuffs Werther, the kid seems to die, but is brought back to silent life when she later confesses she has missed Werther and loves him. The death scene is strange since the morally wounded Werther is compelled by the director to stay on his feet until almost his last breath. French camera work in this period was weird. The camera looks away at moments when you wish it would come in closer, so don't expect any revealing reaction shots, but Shicoff is a passionate and compelling Werther. It's a role he gave up after he had a breakdown during a performance at the Met. It was until then almost his signature role.
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