Werther (Baritone Version) (2-CD) – Tassis Christoyannis, Véronique Gens

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Item: 8055776010168


Werther (Baritone Version) (2-CD) – Tassis Christoyannis, Véronique Gens

Composer: Jules Massenet
Artists: Tassis Christoyannis, Véronique Gens, Hélène Carpentier, Thomas Dolié, Matthieu Lécroart, Artavazd Sargsyan, Laurent Deleuil, Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: György Vashegyi
Number of Discs: 2
Label: Bru Zane
Release Date: March 30, 2024

Massenet’s Werther is one of those masterpieces that were rejected or shunned at the time of their creation. Sketched in the 1880s, the score was turned down by the director of the Opéra-Comique and had to make do with a premiere in German, far from Paris, before finally being heard in Paris in 1893. It gradually established itself as one of the composer’s most personal works, in which he showed himself to be as fine a colorist as he was a master of the art of the motif de rappel. In adapting Goethe’s novel, Massenet and his librettists gave greater prominence to the character of Charlotte, thus placing the struggle between duty and passion at the center of the narrative. 

The role of Werther, originally assigned to a tenor, was also sung by the baritone Mattia Battistini with the composer’s approval. Provided the singer makes skillful use of voix mixte, this version gives the work a melancholy coloring ideal for portraying its hero’s suicidal temperament. Tassis Christoyannis follows this approach in exemplary fashion, opposite the reserved yet moving Charlotte of Véronique Gens. Both singers give the text the preponderant role allotted to it by French operatic tradition.

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Jules Massenet's Werther

Massenet’s adaptation of Goethe’s landmark novel The Sorrows of Young Werther had its premiere in Vienna in 1892 in a German translation and was seen at Paris’s Opéra Comique the following year. The Met gave the first American performance on tour in Chicago in March 1894. Together with Manon and Thaïs, Werther remains the only of Massenet’s almost 40 operas to hold a permanent place in the repertoire. A new production, directed by Richard Eyre and starring Jonas Kaufmann and Sophie Koch, opens in the Met’s 2013–14 season.


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