Sergej Khomov (Werther) | © Hans Jörg Michel
Jules Massenet
Duration: about 2 ½ hours, one interval
Duration: about 2 ½ hours, one interval
“This youngster will soon outstrip us all”, said Georges Bizet shortly before his death with regard to the youthful Jules Massenet (1842–1912). He was to be proved right. Massenet dominated the world of French opera both with his unerring business sense and also with 25 operas composed between 1877 and 1910. His name was made with his fifth work, “Manon”, which has been in the repertoire constantly since its world première in 1884. At that time he already had his eye on Goethe’s epistolary novel “The Sorrows of Young Werther”. In his reminiscences Massenet noted, “Such stormy and ecstatic passion brought tears to my eyes. What moving scenes, what gripping moments it could supply me with! Werther it was!” Unfortunately the director of the Opéra comique in Paris, Léon Carvalho, was unenthusiastic about the suggestion of his composer and rejected the subject as too depressive for his public. It was only after the acclaimed world first in Vienna on 16 February 1892 that he decided to mount the French première, which was followed by an incomparably successful track record.

Then as now the public has been captured by the story of the unhappy love of Werther for Charlotte, who is already promised to another man, and his ensuing suicide. The first duet already makes clear that the two are drawn in love to each other but have no future. “Il faut nous séparer” (we must part now) are Charlotte’s first words to Werther. On the face of it meant purely spatially, the words already anticipate their emotional doom. Massenet’s music burns bright with emotive tension and draws the audience into a drama which ends in Werther’s love-death. Charlotte, after finding him dying, must from that moment onwards live at the side of the man who was intended for her husband from the beginning.

After his recent much praised Düsseldorf début with the staging of Kálmán’s “Die Csárdásfürstin” for Deutsche Oper am Rhein, director Joan Anton Rechi from Andorra will now be responsible for the production of Massenet’s opera.

Jules Massenet

Opera in four acts
Libretto by Edouard Blau, Paul Milliet and Georges Hartmann

In French with German surtitles

Musikalische Leitung Christoph Altstaedt / Wen-Pin Chien
Inszenierung Joan Anton Rechi
Bühne Alfons Flores
Kostüme Sebastian Ellrich
Licht Volker Weinhart
Leitung Kinderchor Karoline Philippi
Dramaturgie Bernhard F. Loges
Werther Sergej Khomov
Albert Laimonas Pautienius
Le Bailli Sami Luttinen
Schmidt Bruce Rankin / Christoph Wittmann
Johann Daniel Djambazian
Brühlmann Attila Fodre
Charlotte Katarzyna Kuncio
Sophie Alma Sadé
Käthchen Hagar Sharvit
Werthers Schatten Joeri Burger
Chor Kinderchor am Rhein
Orchester Düsseldorfer Symphoniker


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