Both tragic and deeply romantic, this opera by Jules Massenet stars a poet plagued by unrequited love, on the verge of suicide on Christmas Eve.
Werther, sung by tenor Ramón Vargas, is a sensitive, artistic character dreamed up by Goethe in the late 18th century. Werther attends a ball with the engaged Charlotte, played by mezzo-soprano Alice Coote, while her fiancé, Albert, is out of town. Amidst confessing his love for Charlotte, she explains a promise made to her dying mother that she would wed Albert.
Charlotte and Albert are wed by Act II, giving Werther plenty of reasons to despair. Writing her letters and reminiscing about the time they’ve spent together, Werther can’t hide his affection for Charlotte, who asks him not to see her again until Christmas Day.
Though thoroughly French in its musical style, this opera is based on the German novel The Sorrows of Young Werther. A hallmark of early romanticism, the novel gained tremendous recognition for German polymath Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Loosely autobiographical, Goethe fell in love with an engaged Charlotte of his own and suffered through a friendship he vainly wished more from.
Conductor Emmanuel Villaume leads this co-production between the San Francisco Opera and the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Werther - Ramon Vargas
Charlotte - Alice Coote
Sophie - Heidi Stober
Albert - Brian Mulligan
The Baliff - Christian Van Horn
Schmidt - Robert MacNeil
Katchen - Susannah Biller
Bruhlmann - Austin Kness
Johann - Bojan Knezevic
CONDUCTOR: Emmanuel Villaume
STAGE DIRECTOR: Francisco Negrin
SAN FRANCISCO OPERA ORCHESTRA & CHORUS
CHORUS DIRECTOR: Ian Robertson