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Story & Setting:

An adaptation of Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, Massenet’s tragic opera carries the audience through an emotional tale of unrequited love. Originally set in 18th Century Frankfurt, this production moves the action to the time of the opera’s composition in the late 19th Century. The title character is a melancholy poet who falls for a married woman that cannot return his affection, leading him to plummet further into disillusionment and depression. It is believed that Werther is based off of Goethe’s real life friend, and legend has it that the story inspired a rash of suicides across Europe, leading it to be banned in places like Leipzig and Denmark. *This opera contains some brief violence, including self-harm, that may be inappropriate for younger audiences

Opera Notes:

Massenet wanted to bring out the true nature of his beloved German book, and later said that he put “all my soul” into his operatic adaptation. He did make a few significant changes to the story, including a passionate final meeting of Charlotte and Werther, which is not in the original text. Massenet’s signature prowess with melody is present throughout the opera, and the sweeping orchestration helps to complete the piece’s tragic, emotional beauty.

Sung in



2 hours & 50 minutes

Jules Massenet (1842-1912)


“Va! Laisse couler mes larmes” (Sophie Koch)

Met Opera (current production)

"Pourquoi me réveiller" (Jonas Kaufmann)

Met Opera (current production)

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