Jules Massenet (1842 – 1912)
Drame lyrique in three acts
Sung in French, with German surtitles.
Libretto: Édouard Blau, Paul Milliet & Georges Hartmann, based on the novel »The Sorrows of Young Werther« by Johann Wolfgang von (1774)
Premiere: 1892 in Vienna
When Goethe's epistolary novel »The Sorrows of Young Werther« appeared in 1774, it spoke directly to the hearts of young readers. Some identified so strongly with the rapturous, desperate letters of the young Werther, the book reputedly led to some of the first known examples of copycat suicide. The work was also popular amongst French readers and by the time the idolized composer Jules Massenet turned the material into an opera, several French Goethe settings had already been published. Massenet's Werther is a child of the late 19th century, made of of extremes: exaggerated emotional intensity and escapism, clothed in the most beautifully rich music. Director Ingo Kerkhof's version reduces the cast to the four main characters, thus bringing the opera closer to the intimate, direct narrative form intrinsic to the epistolary novel. Peter Rundel conducts the Hessian State Orchestra in this new production.
PREMIERE: 9 December 2021