Werther Member Picks Recommended Soundboard

When: Sun., Nov. 11, 2 p.m., Wed., Nov. 14, 7:30 p.m., Sat., Nov. 17, 7:30 p.m., Tue., Nov. 20, 7:30 p.m., Fri., Nov. 23, 7:30 p.m. and Mon., Nov. 26, 7:30 p.m. 2012

We know that the title character (pronounced "ver-tare," more or less) will never get over his hell-bent passion for another man's woman: the question in Lyric Opera's new production of Jules Massenet's 19th-century French opera version of Goethe's 18th-century blockbuster novel The Sorrows of Young Werther, is whether he and the rest of a great young cast can get past their god-awful sets. The answer is yes, but not without an epic struggle. Tenor Matthew Polenzani, a Wilmette native and Ryan Training Center alum, is outstanding in the desperate and vocally soaring title role, and there are strong performances by soprano Sophie Koch as the object of his affection, Kiri Deonarine (a current member of the Ryan Training Center) as her sister, and Craig Verm as her hapless husband. But the production, directed by Francisco Negrin, with sets by Louis Désiré (coproduced by the San Francisco Opera) has them climbing a stairway to nowhere, sinking as if into manholes, and vying for attention with an incredibly clunky series of projections (including something that looks like a giant thermometer), registering, and making banal, the sturm und drang that's so exquisitely communicated by the music alone. Andrew Davis conducts the Lyric Opera orchestra. —Deanna Isaacs

Price: $34-$259

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