Context


The opera Werther is loosely based on the novel The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. While written in French, it received its premiere at the Vienna Court Opera on February 16, 1892, with a German translation by Max Kalbeck. It received its French language premiere in Geneva later that year, and wasn’t performed in France until January 1893. The role of Werther was originally written for tenor, but Massenet did adjust the role so that a baritone could sing it in 1902. When Goethe’s novel was first published, it was a huge success. Werther’s blue frock coat and yellow waist coat became a major fashion statement, and there was a minor suicide epidemic.

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