jules massenet

Werther

Libretto by Edouard Blau, Paul Milliet and Georges Hartmann

Based on Goethe’s novel Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (‘The Sorrows of Young Werther’) of 1774

First performed at the Vienna Opera, 16 February 1892

[First of all, so that there can be no doubt about it, a note about pronunciation.  Goethe’s story was written in German, and Werther, as well as the other characters who appear in it, must have their proper German pronunciation.  It should be pronounced Vare-tare, with the stress on the second syllable.  The French pronunciation is the same.]

The story of the opera

Very few stories have managed to merge truth and fiction so effectively that the boundary becomes indiscernible.  And very few stories have sparked off such an extreme reaction from an entire generation that young people chose to commit suicide as a consequence of their passionate association with a supposedly fictional character.  And very few stories can still arouse powerful emotions over 200 years after it was first written.  The story of Werther does all these things, and the…

 

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