Top Menu

Die Berliner Philharmonie
8:00PM, Monday, June 16, 2014
Die Berliner Philharmonie
8:00PM, Thursday, June 19, 2014

Jules Massenet (1842 – 1912)

Opera in four acts; Libretto by Edouard Blau, Paul Milliet and Georges Hartmann, based on the novel The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang Goethe; First performance on 16th February, 1892 in Vienna; Premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 14st June, 2014

In French with German surtitles

It would be falling far short of the mark to describe WERTHER as simply a novel set to music. Jules Massenet’s “Drame lyrique” is an opera sufficient of itself, one informed more by German than by French musical theatre. In setting the story to music Massenet so intensified the role of the orchestra, lacing it with singing roles, that it became far more than a mere adjunct to the whole. For a number of reasons the hoped-for premiere at the Paris Opéra Comique did not take place. When, in the wake of Massenet’s triumph with MANON, the Vienna Hofoper signalled its interest in a new work by the composer, he proposed his WERTHER, which he was on the verge of completing. Despite the German material, the premiere in Vienna in 1892 did not go down well and it was not until the last quarter of the 20th century that interest picked up. Since then, however, the opera has taken off, becoming a favourite among opera-goers, in part due to the two main characters, whose duets are central to each of the work’s four acts and provide an excellent opportunity to showcase two extraordinary voices.

The Deutsche Oper Berlin, too, has hosted full productions and concert performances of WERTHER featuring the likes of Alfredo Kraus and Vesselina Kasarova. In the concert performances at the Philharmonia the title role will be taken by Vittorio Grigolo, the big name among young star tenors. Grigolo has already taken audiences by storm in the Bismarckstraße with his renditions of Rodolfo and Alfredo.