Broadcasts from the Lyric Opera of Chicago continue on Classical 90.5 at noon this Saturday, May 25th, with a performance of Werther by Jules Massenet, set to a French libretto by Édouard Blau, Paul Milliet and Georges Hartmann, based on the German epistolary novel The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, itself a semi-autobiographical look at Goethe's early life. The performance will run approximately three hours. Sir Andrew Davis conducts.
When it comes to romances that tear at the heartstrings, this one ranks among the best. Goethe’s novel on which the story is based made him the toast of Europe. And Jules Massenet’s emotionally vivid music—sometimes grandiose, sometimes achingly fragile—brilliantly illuminates the complex psychology of its troubled protagonists.
When poet Werther and the lovely Charlotte meet, they’re smitten. Here is the woman of this sensitive man’s dreams, but his rapture soon dissolves into desolation when Charlotte follows the wishes of her dying mother and marries another man. Yet she cannot bring herself to tell Werther to give her up. And so he lives in hope—but in the end, he’s doomed. Charlotte may love him, but she’ll never be his.
The San Francisco Chronicle called the Lyric's production of Werther a haunting story of “missed connections and shattered illusions” revealed in “canny production and inventive staging.”