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In Review: Mechavich and Edelson in Florida Grand Opera's "Werther"

"this production is new, and a creation from the ground up. While keeping the story firmly planted in the German countryside, the simple, abstract set by Michael Baumgarten is vast but sparse, giving a sense of the emotional loneliness that early on begins to bubble up in the characters. A one-dimensional, overgrown tree is at the center of the set. Letters hang from the branches instead of leaves. In winter, the tree has lost its “leaves,” and the letters are scattered on the ground.The scenic design’s simplicity leaves room for attention to the singers. . . Lawrence Edelson’s direction aligns with the set as he unfolds the show like the changing of the seasons, from Massenet’s sunny Act 1 to its sorrowful finale.An astute conductor realizes that Massenet’s music must be as emotive and expressive as the action onstage. Joseph Mechavich brings out the French Romantic’s lilting emphasis on strings and woodwinds in the opening strains and throughout the first act, and pushes his orchestra to full throttle for the tumultuous, dark and dissonant third and fourth acts. Onstage, the tug of war between duty and desire continues to build, while in the orchestra pit, the music heightens the tension.For an opera to run on all cylinders, all the elements must be in sync, from the direction to the singers and orchestra. Florida Grand Opera’s “Werther” has this and more, down to the letter."

-Miami Herald


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