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Werther has requested one of Albert's pistols, and the gathering's Christmas present will be his suicide. This nihilistic conclusion to Goethe's novel caused much contemporary scandal. Whether Werther need have been so concerned in the 1950s about the possibility of burial in unconsecrated ground is a matter for social history. At last Charlotte realises her tragic error of judgment, as she comforts the dying Werther [watch and listen -- 'Ah! Ses yeux se ferment!' (Act 4), chapter 45, 0:00-1:37]. English Thackeray gave an irreverent twist to a story that was beginning to embarrass even Goethe:

    So he sigh'd and pined and ogled,
      And his passion boil'd and bubbled,
    Till he blew his silly brains out,
      And no more was by it troubled.

Werther (Marcelo Álvarez) with Charlotte (Elina Garanca) at the end of Act 4. DVD screenshot © 2005 ORF
Werther (Marcelo Álvarez) with Charlotte (Elina Garanca) at the end of Act 4. DVD screenshot © 2005 ORF

 

Copyright © 16 February 2006 Robert Anderson, London UK

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Jules Massenet: Werther

DVWW-OPWER DVD9 16:9 anamorphic NTSC Region 0 DD 5.0, DTS 5.0, LPCM Stereo NEW RELEASE 132' (12' Bonus) 2005 ORF/TDK

Marcelo Álvarez, Werther; Adrian Eröd, Albert; Alfred Sramek, The Bailiff; Peter Jelosits, Schmidt; Marcus Pelz, Johann; Clemens Unterreiner, Brühlmann; Elina Garanca, Charlotte; Ileana Tonca, Sophie; Maria Gusenleitner, Käthchen; Vienna State Opera Choir and Orchestra; Ernst Dunshirn, chorus master; Vienna State Opera Stage Orchestra; Children of the Vienna State Opera Opera School; Philippe Jordan, conductor; Andrei Serban, director; Peter Pabst, set designer; Peter Pabst and Petra Reinhardt, costume designers; Claus Viller, TV and video director; Wolfgang Hirschl and team, cameras; Gernot Arendt, Herbert Roseneder, Alfred Penz, editors; Gregor Hornacek, sound; Michael Heinzl, producer; Heidelinde Rudy, executive producer

Jules Massenet (1842-1912): Werther (Lyrical Drama in four acts, 1886, libretto by Édouard Blau, Paul Milliet, and Georges Hartmann, after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe) + bonus : Prior to opening night: Marcelo Álvarez and Elina Garanca at the Vienna Opera Ball

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