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Werther (Blau, Hartmann & Milliet / Massenet)




Drame lyrique en 4 actes créé à Vienne (Hofoper). Première représentation parisienne : Opéra-Comique (salle du Théâtre-Lyrique) le 16 janvier 1893.


Gounod’s Faust, Thomas’s Mignon, Massenet’s Werther: Goethe inspired three of the most successful French operas of the twentieth century, which, due to the constraints of the genre, nevertheless significantly betrayed their literary sources. Édouard Blau, Paul Millet and Georges Hartmann (Massenet’s librettists) were not the guiltiest of that, but they did provide a full characterisation of Charlotte (in the epistolary novel, everything is related by Werther), who reciprocates Werther’s love (not the case in Goethe). Massenet completed the composition in 1887, whereupon he submitted it to the director of the Opéra-Comique, Carvalho, but the latter declined to accept it on the grounds that the scenario, ending with suicide, was too tragic. Gounod’s Manon had been successful in Vienna in 1890, so that was where Werther was triumphantly premièred (in a German translation) at the Hofoper (now the Vienna State Opera) on 16 February 1892. It received its French première at the Opéra-Comique on 16 January 1893: the four-act opera was praised by the critics, but received a lukewarm reception from the audience. The work was not a success in France until 1903, when it entered the repertoire of the Opéra-Comique in a production supervised by Albert Carré. In Werther, Massenet’s most personal score, he further explored the ideas he had already brought to maturity in Manon (1884). He created broad dramatic entities, based however on a series of finely nuanced moments, connected with a keen sense of transition. The eloquence of the vocal line and an orchestra that is often the driving force behind the discourse reveal the interiority of the characters with depth and at the same time with economy of means – see, for example, in Act III, Charlotte’s “Va! laisse couler mes larmes” (with concerted saxophone) and, in Act IV, Werther’s final solo, “Pourquoi me réveiller?”

    Images - 19
  • Jules Massenet et Marie Renard
  • Gabrielle Lejeune en Charlotte (Werther de Massenet)
  • Jane Hatto en Charlotte (Werther de Massenet)
  • Jeanne Borel en Charlotte (Werther de Massenet)
  • Maguerite de Nuovina dans différents rôles
  • Marie Delna en Charlotte (Werther de Massenet)
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    Librettos - 2
  • Werther [mise en scène allemande d'August Stoll]
  • Werther [mise en scène]
  • Persons - 4
  • BLAU, Édouard (1836-1906)
  • HARTMANN, Georges (1843-1900)
  • MASSENET, Jules (1842-1912)
  • MILLIET, Paul (1848-1924)
  • Themes - 3
  • Institution – Opéra-Comique de Paris
  • Lieux de musique – salle du Théâtre-Lyrique (Théâtre de la Ville)
  • Opera – Opera in France in the nineteenth century
  • Study - 1
  • Branger, Jean-Christophe – Massenet and opera: richness and diversity