A masterly and nuanced portrayal of hopeless love.
Werther, the young poet. Charlotte, the woman he loves. And his best friend Albert, to whom she is engaged. Massenet transforms the triangle of Goethe’s hugely influential novel of impossible love into a hauntingly gentle and lyrical opera that sensitively traces the unfolding of a hopeless passion. So hopeless that, when Charlotte’s hot and cold feelings cause her to turn away from Werther yet again, tragedy can not be averted.
Sung in French with English surtitles.
Performed in a new orchestration by Richard Peirson.
Running time is approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes including one interval.
Werther...In Focus, a free online introduction to the opera with speaker Michael Lee takes place on 20 April at 7pm. Book Here.
Join us for some Werther inspired community pre-show performances at select venues. More info.
Trigger Warnings: Themes of an adult nature - Suicide
Join the conversation #INOWerther
“This piece has everything” - mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato
“all but steals the show” - BBC Music Magazine on Paride Cataldo
Cast and Creative Team
|Le Bailli||Wyn Pencarreg|
|Set & Costume Designer||Sarah Bacon|
|Lighting Designer||Sarah Jane Shiels|
|Assistant Director||Chris Kelly|
|Arranger and Répétiteur||Richard Peirson|
|Movement Director||Jessica Kennedy|
|INO Children's Chorus||Ethan O'Connor, Molly Verdier, Nora Verdier|
|INO Children's Chorus Director||Medb Brereton-Hurley|
|Language Coach||Caroline Moreau|
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Arranger and Répétiteur
THE BAILIFF’S HOME, THE IRISH MIDLANDS, JULY 1952
The recently widowed Bailiff is, oddly, rehearsing a Christmas carol with his young children on a warm summer evening. Since the death of his wife, his eldest daughter, Charlotte, has been looking after the family with the help of her younger sister Sophie. Johann and Schmidt, two of the Bailiff’s friends, stop by on the way to the pub and discuss young Werther, a writer who lives near their village. The Bailiff has arranged for Werther to escort Charlotte to a party in a nearby village that evening. They also ask about Charlotte’s fiancé Albert, the man she had promised her late mother she would marry. He is a travelling salesman, who is away selling appliances to homes recently connected to the ESB network. Werther arrives and reflects on the natural beauty of the area, before being introduced to Charlotte and setting off for the ball. Left behind to mind the children, Sophie is surprised by the arrival of Albert, who has returned after a long absence. Albert wants to surprise Charlotte, he will return in the morning. Later that evening, Werther and Charlotte return from the ball. Werther praises Charlotte’s beauty and devotion to her family; she remembers her mother. Werther passionately declares his love for her, but is interrupted when the Bailiff reminds Charlotte that Albert has returned. The spell is broken. Werther is devastated.
IN THE MIDDLE OF THE VILLAGE, LATE SEPTEMBER
The village is preparing to celebrate the electrification. Charlotte and Albert have been married for three months. Werther has remained close to Charlotte and her family, but is tormented knowing that she is married to another man. Albert understands why Werther is so depressed: he knows all too well what it would mean to lose Charlotte. Werther assures him that he feels only friendship for them both. Sophie invites Werther for a dance but he evades her. When Charlotte appears he cannot prevent himself from speaking of his love and recalls their first meeting. Charlotte reminds him of her duties as a wife. For both of their sakes, she says, he must leave town and not return until Christmas. Alone, Werther gives in to his despair, musing on the idea of suicide. Sophie returns to invite him to the festivities but he brusquely replies that he is departing forever and rushes off, leaving her in tears. The electricity connection is turned on by the local priest.
CHARLOTTE AND ALBERT’S HOME, CHRISTMAS EVE
Charlotte, home alone, obsessively re-reads Werther’s letters, admitting to herself that she still loves him as much as he loves her. Sophie arrives and tries to cheer her up, but Charlotte gives in to her despair. Werther arrives at the house, utterly desolate, still in love with Charlotte. He becomes increasingly wild and she becomes fearful, torn between giving in to him and escaping from him. She panics and runs from the room, telling him they will never meet again. The hopeless Werther says she is sentencing him to death, and leaves, taking Albert’s shotgun. Albert returns, knowing that Werther has been there. He discovers Werther’s suicide note and tells Charlotte to leave.
A DESERTED FARM YARD
Charlotte finds Werther mortally wounded. He asks her not to call for help, happy to finally be united with her. She admits that she has loved him since they first met. Werther dies in her arms as the children’s Christmas carol is heard in the distance.