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Massenet, J. (1842-1912)


Werther






Composed 1885-1887.
First performed February 16, 1892.
Libretto by Edouard Blau, Paul Milliet and Georges Hartmann (in French),
after Goethe.




A Summary of gWertherh



Act 1
In the 1780s, in a rural area of Germany, Wetzlar, Lord Chancellorfs eldest daughter, Charlotte, takes care of her brothers and sisters since her mother died. One day of July, in the evening, Charlotte goes to a ball with Werther who is a young poet, because her fiance, Albert, has gone on a trip. Werther escorts her. And, he is impressed by her kindness in taking care of her brothers and sisters. On her way home, under the moon, Werther confesses his love. But, Charlotte tells him that she already has a fiance, and that her motherfs wish was to marry Albert.

Act 2
Now, Charlotte marries Albert. In September, Werther is badly shaken up when seeing them. Charlottefs sister, Sophie, attempts to cheer him up. He ignores her. He shows his feeling to Charlotte, again. But, she tells him that he should go away till Christmas.

Act 3
On Christmas Eve, Werther suddenly appears in her house during Albertfs absence. Charlotte pretends to be indifferent to him. Werther confesses his love again, by reading to her the poetry of Ossian, and he attempts to draw her close to him. But, she shakes him off, and goes to the next door. Werther despairs and leaves.

Act 4
That night, Charlotte has an uneasy feeling, so she hurries to Wertherfs house. When she finds him, he has shot himself and is dying. She attempts to call for help, but he stops her. The two hug each other, and Charlotte finally recognizes her love for him. Werther breathes his last breath as he imagines her secretly visiting his grave
.




A Comment on gWertherh



The origin of this opera, gWertherh is Johann Wolfgang von Goethefs famous novel, gThe Sorrows of Young Werther,h which is based on a true story. The first half is based on Goethe himself, and the second half is based on his friendfs life. In the latter 18th century, this novel was the most popular book, and 100 years later, Massenet composed this opera based on this novel.

Jules Emile Frederic Massenet is one of the most important composers of French operas. He has a special technique for creating beautiful music. He can compose sweet melodies and harmonies. His beautiful music suits Goethefs love story. I recommend you watch this opera, if you want to enjoy beautiful music in operas.

The Tenor who sings Werther needs not only a high voice but also to express delicate moments. Wertherfs aria in Act 3, gPourquoi me reveiller? (Why do you wake me now?)h has very beautiful melodies. Charlotte is sung not by a Soprano but by a Mezzo Soprano. I think that Massenet cherishes her kindness in taking care of her brothers and sisters, so he composed Charlotte as Mezzo Soprano.





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