Werther / Lyric Opera of Chicago

John von Rhein

Chicago Tribune

In Polenzani’s role debut as the tortured protagonist, it’s clear from the start the Ryan Center alumnus was born to sing this touchstone French tenor part.

“Hometown tenor Matthew Polenzani … has become well-established in this sort of repertoire. Remarkably, Sunday afternoon’s opening performance marked his role debut as the self-tormenting Werther. He was up to every aspect, from his Act 1 outbursts when he first sees and falls instantly in love with Charlotte to his physical expressions of inner resentment and hope to his famous Act 3 aria ‘Pourquoi me reveiller.’”
— Andrew Patner, Chicago Sun-Times

“The American tenor Matthew Polenzani as Werther gave an outstanding performance—full of character—and also gave impeccablable interpretations of Massenet’s vocal lines. Polenzani’s rich and focused sound was impressive, with the almost naïve charm of his first aria ‘O Nature, pleine de grace’ depicting his character’s rapture. And the passion of his second-act aria ‘Un autre époux!’ (which verbalizes Werther’s shock at Charlotte’s marriage to Albert) was reinforced with his musicality. In the concluding scene of the second act, ‘Oui, ce qu’elle m’ordonne,’ Polenzani provides the dramatic and musical authority this exemplary score deserves.”
— James L. Zychowicz, Seen and Heard International

“… The Illinois-born Polenzani, who scored a triumph in the title role of Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmannhere last season, delivered another triumph on this occasion. The beauty of his sound, the musicality of his legato, the suppleness of his phrasing, the clarity of his French diction, the ringing ease of his high notes – all served a finely realized portrayal. His account of Werther’s ‘Pourquoi me reveiller’, ardent yet elegant, was a model of how that great aria should be sung.”
— John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune