A few weeks ago I got to attend a working rehearsal of Jules Massenet’s Werther at the Metropolitan Opera. Based on the novel The Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe, the opera tells the tale of a young poet, Werther, who falls in love with Charlotte, but, alas, she is to marry Albert.. which she does… They meet again on Christmas eve, but Werther’s love remains unrequited and he commits suicide. The story of the lovelorn poet can seem like an outdated trope, but the performances are absolutely spectacular, and the score is delightful. See Werther before it closes on March 9th.
On the theatre front, I attended a preview of Jitney, a rarely performed play from August Wilson’s Pittsburgh cycle, that centers around a group of African-American men trying to make ends meet by driving unlicensed taxis, or jitneys in a run-down section of Pittsburgh. Their livelihoods are threatened when the City announces it’s going to board up the building they operate from, and if that weren’t enough, the boss’ son returns from prison only to argue with his father, adding more tension. By focusing on this particular group, their personal stories, their relationships with each other and the place to which the larger society wants to consign them, Wilson opens a window to the conflicts and struggles that we all face, no matter what our race, social strata or location. The acting is brilliant, as is Wilson’s dialogue. Be sure to see Jitney before it closes on March 12th.