This week we are introducing our first Little London Whisper. A series of conversations with people visiting London, Londoners, and people who have adopted London as their home.

Little London Whispers has collaborated with The Royal Opera House for a series of stories and events over the next few months and into 2020. We will be organising behind the scenes tours, and bring insights into what you can see and do at the ROH. There will also be the opportunity for you to join us for something very special!

To begin our collaboration, we went to see the opera Werther, starring Isabel Leonard, the American mezzo-soprano sensation, in her Royal Opera House debut. Isabel is much acclaimed for her “passionate intensity and remarkable vocal beauty”.

Read our first Little London Whisper here Little London Whisper with Isabel.

Werther at The Royal Opera House

Werther has only been performed twice before in the UK, and the hype surrounding this Jules Massenet opera is more than justified.

Little London Whispers at The Royal Opera House

The story of Werther

Skip to end if you don’t want to know how the drama plays out!

Werther is loosely based on a novella by Goethe. Juan Diego Flores, one of opera’s greatest tenors, plays Werther who falls in love with the eldest daughter of the local bailiff. Unfortunately, Charlotte, played by the Grammy award winning artist Isabel Leonard, is already engaged to her childhood friend Albert.

Once she is married to Albert, Werther falls into despair and declares his undying love for her. Charlotte begs him to go away until Christmas and forget his love for her.

But Werther cannot forget and frequently writes to her. In Act 3 we find Charlotte rereading some of his letters and is overcome with grief and guilt. It is Christmas Eve and Werther suddenly appears. He tells her how much he still loves her and her emotions reveal that she too loves him. He begs her to leave Albert, but she is bound by duty and tells him he must leave at once.

Albert appears and receives a note from Werther saying he is going off on a long trip and wants to borrow his pistols. Charlotte has a terrible premonition and runs off to find Werther. Tragically she is too late and Werther has already shot himself. They declare their love for each other and he dies in her arms.

What did we think?

We both loved the entire evening. The set is simple, yet impressive, and even in the final scene and knowing what was to come, the set design was so clever. The performances of all the leading parts grew as the evening went on, as did the audience’s reaction. We even had a well-deserved ‘bravo’ in Act III after Florez’s aria telling us of the impending doom.

It was an exquisite evening. Leonard was perfect as Charlotte, and her little sister Sophie was incredible. The Jules Massenet score is as romantic as it is powerful and beautiful. The whole evening a pure magical delight.

Werther is playing at The Royal Opera House until 5 October 2019.