Episode #15

Werther: Massenet's Lovelorn Hero

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Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Isabel Leonard, mezzo-soprano. (Dario Acosta)

When Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's epistolary novel The Sorrows of Young Werther was published in 1774, it became an overnight sensation. Men wore yellow waistcoats and leather breeches to look like the novel's lovelorn hero, they carried vials of their own tears to display the depth of their feelings, and they even killed themselves in solidarity with the title character. The story of passionate, unrequited love was equally resonant when Jules Massenet's opera premiered a century later, and the glorious music is still just as heart-rending today. 

On this week's episode of He Sang/She Sang, Merrin Lazyan and Jeff Spurgeon speak with writer James Kuslan about Massenet's Werther. We also hear from mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard about the magnetic power of love at first sight. 

 Kuslan's first YouTube pick (Tatiana Troyanos, 1982):

Kuslan's second YouTube pick (Christa Ludwig and Franco Corelli, 1971):

Spurgeon's YouTube pick (Lisette Oropesa and Jonas Kaufmann): 

This episode features excerpts from the following album:

Massenet: Werther (Philips, 1981)
— José Carreras, tenor; Frederica von Stade, mezzo-soprano; Isobel Buchanan, soprano; Orchestra of the Royal Opera House conducted by Sir Colin Davis

Comments [3]

Peter Garibaldi

What a guest! I saw the Met production right before I heard this and it's by far some of the most helpful, thoughtful insight I've found. It's as rare as it is refreshing to hear someone talk about opera with so broad a perspective. Bravo Mr. Kuslan! Encore!

Mar. 13 2017 02:42 PM
Catherine Tharpe from Tallahassee FL

Hear, hear, Jenny Tripp! More Kuslan, indeed. I love Kuslan's quote that was repeated twice by Jeff Spurgeon. It so so perfectly and compactly explains why I LOVE this art form so much.

Mar. 07 2017 02:16 PM
Jenny Tripp from Connecticut

LOVED THIS! Please, more more more Kuslan.

Mar. 02 2017 07:52 AM

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