by Jules Massenet
Lyrical drama based on the epistolary novel The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

in French with English and German surtitels
Werther loves Charlotte, but she has sworn to marry Albert. It remains open until the end whether she loves Werther, too. Werther throws himself into this (superficially) one-sided amour fou to the point of self-destruction, all the while trying to convince Charlotte that she is mistaken. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe "cured" himself with his novel of his own doomed love for the already engaged Charlotte Buff. And he gave an entire epoch an idol of passionate love to the point of suicide by his character Werther. In his opera of 1892, Jules Massenet went one step further with his idea of transgressive emotional emphasis. These days, Werther's dilemma does not actually sound like an insoluble problem. Nevertheless, Massenet’s composition with its merciless affects still proves a stress test for the relationship of an individual towards the orderly mass.
First performance
1892 in Wien

Recommended age
from grade 8
There will be an introduction 45 minutes before the performance at foyer I. floor.
Act I
Werther comes to pick up Charlotte, the Bailiff’s eldest daughter and take her to the ball. There he falls in love with her. Charlotte’s fiancé Albert returns unexpectedly from a journey and makes Charlotte’s sister Sophie promise to keep his return a secret. Werther’s declarations of love begin to take effect on Charlotte. It is only upon hearing the Bailiff’s voice that she remembers her engagement. Werther lets Charlotte go.

Act II
Albert tells Charlotte of his happiness at their three months of marriage. Werther cannot bear the fact that he is not her husband. Albert presses him to keep away from Charlotte. Werther pays no attention to this request. Albert proposes Sophie as a good alternative to his wife, on account of her being a free woman. Werther pays no heed to this either. He and Charlotte meet and she, too, begs him to purge his mind of any amorous intentions towards her. Werther remains unpersuaded by any of this. Not until Charlotte sends him away until Christmas does he come to understand and consider suicide.
It is Christmas Eve and Charlotte is alone. Werther continues to occupy her every thought. She reads his letters over and over. He writes of loneliness and sadness. The final letter is a threat: Should she not see him again at Christmas, then she will have to weep for him – or else live in fear of his return. Sophie tries in vain to create a more jovial atmosphere. Charlotte prefers to dwell on her sadness. Out of nowhere, Werther suddenly appears. He beseeches Charlotte with memories of the past. Although she refuses him, the situation escalates. Charlotte flees from Werther once and for all. For him, this is his death sentence.

Act IV
Werther has shot himself. Charlotte discovers him mortally wounded but still alive. Only now does she declare her love for him. Outside, the sound of children singing joyful Christmas carols can be heard. Werther dies. This spells the end for Charlotte, too.

Photo Gallery