Musical drama in four acts based on the novel by Johann Wolfgang Goethe · poetry by Édouard Blau, Paul Milliet and Georges Hartmann · In French with German subtitles
After attending the Bayreuth Festival in summer 1885, Massenet and his publisher Hartmann proceeded to travel through Germany, during which they visited the house in Wetzlar, where Goethe wrote the epistolary novel »The Sorrows of Young Werther«. That same day, engrossed in a translation of the novel, reading the love scene which develops from Werther’s works of Ossian, he decided to compose a »Werther« opera: »These disturbing scenes, these gripping images – what was it that produced it all! That was ›Werther‹! That was my third act.«
Although Massenet clearly drew inspiration from Goethe’s work, he developed a version of »Werther« which significantly increased the importance of Charlotte’s role and shifted her tragic story to the fore: an inwardly emancipated young woman who is aware that she stands between two men. Compared to Charlotte, the development of the work’s alleged hero is only secondary, the social circumstances are no longer addressed, and Werther acts merely as a self-reflective, loving and suffering individual. The seemingly thinly-woven plot »about a love-sick tenor who only has two active moments, one when he tries to steal a kiss from his beloved, and the other when he shoots himself behind the scenes« (George Bernard Shaw), is compensated by Massenet’s portrayal of Charlotte, who undergoes a passionate development in her ability to love and confess her feelings, thereby determining the drama of the opera. Here we have an opera which, for the first time, doesn’t end with the death of the heroine. Werther dies – in contrast to Goethe’s version – happily in Charlotte’s arms. She, however, is overcome with despair, shattered by the realisation that she must return to her loveless marriage with Albert. Yet even though the characters of Charlotte and Werther are torn between love and despair, Massenet’s opera is one of the most poetic, cantabile and expressive works of the French repertoire.
Massenet’s »Werther«, which celebrated its world premiere in Weimar in 1892, is the first in the series »Classics in Music Theatre«, directed by Michael Talke. In addition to directing plays at theatres like the Volksbühne in Berlin, the Schauspielhaus Köln, Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf, Schauspiel Hannover, and the Thalia Theater Hamburg, he has also staged numerous music theatre productions, most recently Rossini’s »Il barbiere di Siviglia« at the Staatstheater Braunschweig and Moritz Eggert’s period opera »All diese Tage« at the Theater Bremen.
With the children's Choir Schola Cantorum Weimar (Choirdirector: Cordula Fischer).
Matrin Hoff (conductor)
Michael Talke (director)
Barbara Steiner (stage design)
Klaus Bruns (costumes)
Kathrin Kondaurow (dramaturgy)
Artjom Korotkov (Werther)
Alik Abdukayumov/ Björn Waag (Albert)
Uwe Schenker-Primus (Le Bailli)
Alexander Günther/ Jaesig Lee (Schmidt)
Sebastian Campione/ Andreas Koch (Johann)
Jens Schmiedeke/ Klaus Wegener (Brühlmann)
Julia Rutigliano/ Sayaka Shigeshima (Charlotte)
Steffi Lehman /Elisabeth Wimmer (Sophie)
Akihu Tsujii*/ Yunfei Lu* (Käthe)