Christmas, of course

Christmas, of course

Jenna Simeonov

It's Christmas, guys. The Messiahs, the Christmas carols, the Hänsels and Gretels, they're all fair game for this season of nostalgia. I was deciding on my pick for this year's Christmas-ful opera, assuming I'd end up in the direction of Amahl and the Night Visitors, or going for an exception to the opera theme (it's Christmas, after all) and voting for A Charlie Brown Christmas instead. This year, I seem to be gravitating towards the darker holiday stories, like The Little Matchgirl (the depressing Hans Christian Andersen poem, made into an opera by August Enna), or Calgary Opera's recent Silent Night, or Tchaikovsky's forgotten Christmas opera, Vakula the Smith (obscurity for its own sake).

So, I figured if I was going to be ironic about my Christmas opera, I should at least be, as I stated above, nostalgic. I settled on Massenet's cheery tale, Werther, about a sullen poet, an indecisive mezzo, and how the holidays bring out the best and worst in all of us. Before you cry, "Grinch!", at least note that this Werther is from 1979 in Aix-en-Provence, with Neil Shicoff in the title role, and Teresa Berganza as Charlotte. Merry Christmas, all!

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