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MASSENET’S WERTHER: A NIGHT AT THE OPERA

The Opéra de Montréal debuted their latest production, Werther by Massenet (January 22-February 3 at Place des Arts), this past weekend and the Montreal Buzz was there to take it all in… French composer Jules Massenet based his libretto, Werther, on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, a novel so popular that its publication in the late 18th century created a “Werther Fever”, which caused young men to dress in the style of the protagonist and even, in some extreme cases, to commit copycat suicides. Massenet’s Werther stays faithful to Goethe’s narrative arc: the young artist Werther falls in love with the beautiful and caring Charlotte, even though she is already engaged to another man. Werther runs off to escape his feelings for her, but returns only to find his love for her has not diminished and that desperate measures must be taken. A story about a tortured young artist deep in throes of love? A perfect fit for a city that gave Leonard Cohen to the world…