From Academic Kids

Werther is an opera in four acts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Édouard Blau, based on the novel The Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe. First performance: Hofoper, Vienna, 1892.

Werther is part of the standard operatic repertoire. There are a several recordings of it, and it is regularly performed.



  • Principal roles
  • Minor roles
    • Le Bailli, Charlotte's father - Bass or Baritone
    • Schmidt, a friend of the Bailli - Tenor
    • Johann, a friend of the Bailli - Bass or Baritone
  • Other
    • Brühlmann, a young man - Tenor
    • Käthchen, a young girl - Soprano
    • Guests, servants - Mute
    • Children, women - Chorus


Time: July to December 1780.
Place: The outskirts of Frankfurt.

Act I

The widowed Bailiff teaches his younger children a Christmas carol, surprising his two neighbors, Schmidt and Johann, for it is July. Charlotte dresses for a ball. Since her intended, Albert, is away, she is escorted by Werther whom they find gloomy. Werther arrives and watches as Charlotte prepares her young sibling's supper, just as her mother had before she died. Werther greets Charlotte with a kiss, and they leave for the ball. Albert returns unexpectedly after a six month trip. He is unsure of Charlotte's intensions and disappointed not to find her here, but is reassured and consoled by Sophie. He leaves after promising to return in the morning. Werther and Charlotte return very late, and he is already in enamoured with her. His declaration of love is interrupted by the announcement of Albert's return. Charlotte recalls how she promised her dying mother she would marry Albert. Werther dispairs.

Act II

It is three months later, and Charlotte and Albert are now married. They walk happily to church, persued by the gloomy Werther. Sophie tries to cheer him up. When Charlotte exits the church, he speaks to her of their first meeting. Charlotte begs Werther not to try to see her again until Christmas day. Werther contemplates suicide, but leaves quickly when Sophie greets him. Charlotte comforts the tearful girl who does not understand his cruel behavior. Albert now realizes that Werther loves Charlotte.


Charlotte is at home alone on Christmas Eve. She spends time rereading Werther's letters to her, wondering how the young poet is and how she had the strength to send him away. Suddenly Werther appears, and while he reads her poetry, he realizes that she returns his love. They embrace for a moment, but she quickly bids him farewell. He leaves with thoughts of suicide. Albert returns home to find his distraught wife. Werther has sent a message to Albert requesting to borrow his pistols, explaing he is going on an extended trip. A servant is sent to deliver the pistols. Charlotte has a terrible premonition and hurries to find Werther.

Act IV

At Werther's apartment, Charlotte has arrived too late. Werther is dying. She consoles him by declaring her love. He asks for forgiveness. Outside children are heard singing a Christmas carol.

Noted arias

  • "Ô Nature" (Werther)
  • "Va, laisse couleur" (Charlotte)
  • "Pourquoi me réveiller?" (Werther)es:Werther



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