Werther: Massenet's Lovelorn Hero
Wednesday, March 01, 2017
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