Jules Massenet

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Musical drama in four acts (five scenes)
Libretto: Édouard Blau, Paul Millet, and Georges Hartmann after Johann Wolfgang Goethe
World premiere: 16 February 1892, Paris
Premiere of this production: 14 January 1995, Amsterdam
In the original French with Polish and English surtitles
Werther by Jules Massenet comes from the catalogue of Wise Music Group

Probably some of the audience members have experienced Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s novella, The Sorrows of Young Werther, as compulsory school reading. And while reading, they also suffered, although for reasons different (we suppose) than the main character. The road to the stage was not strewn with roses: the director of the Parisian Opéra-Comique rejected the play (too gloomy), while the composer lost heart for the project for several years. Only after the libretto was translated back into German (it had been originally written in French) did Werther make its Vienna debut. The German-speaking audience regarded the sorrowful youth dispassionately, the critics liked the piece, and a decade later, this time in Paris (and in French) the audiences fell in love with it (over a thousand performances before 1938!). Of course no conclusions should be hastily drawn about the superiority of suffering in French over that in German. We simply note the facts. I adore the ironic opening – the Judge’s children practice Christmas carols: after all, Christmas is coming, and it is July already! It would seem that the stereotype of judicious, eternally prepared German has been fertig since the 19th century at least.




  • Patrons of Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

  • Partners of the Opera Academy

  • Partners of Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

  • Media patrons

  • Media patron of the premiere