Forbidden love, wrongdoings and anguish: Zurich Opera House ventures into late 19th-century French romanticism with Werther, by French composer Jules Massenet.
A loose adaptation of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s epistolary novel “The Sorrows of Young Werther”, the opera is conducted by Germany’s Cornelius Meister. It tells the story of the impossible union of poet Werther to Charlotte, a woman of duty already promised to a wealthy businessman.
Despair pushes Werther to commit suicide.
Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez embodies a tortured and nuanced Werther.
Juan Diego Flórez:
“Werther is the masterpiece, of course. Musically, it’s beautiful, it’s gorgeous, you are transported into another dimension. It’s like a big continuous … even lust and pleasure, because of the orchestration, the singing.”
The one-room staging by stage director Tatjana Gürbaca cleverly renders the social stranglehold of oppression. Should one come into the fold or escape?
“I think it’s fascinating that it’s one of the rare operas not to be about pharaohs, geishas or crazy kings. Rather, this piece takes place in Germany and it’s set in a more or less normal family environment; it’s a family story.”
“The character of Werther is like a god falling on Earth and causing turmoil, and his energy puts other things in movement.