Running time: 3 h
Set Designer and Costume Designer
Escolania de la Mare de Déu dels Desemparats
Luis Garrido, chorus master
Escola Coral Veus Juntes de Quart de Poblet
Míriam Puchades and Lucía Durá, chorus masters
Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana
Palau de les Arts, Opéra Monte-Carlo
Anna Caterina Antonacci
Michael Borth *
Alejandro López *
Moisés Marín *
Jorge Álvarez *
Fabián Lara *
* Centre Plácido Domingo
The outskirts of Frankfurt in the late 18th century. An elderly widowed magistrate, patriarch of a large family, sings a Christmas carol with his youngest children in the middle of summer, to the great amusement of his neighbors and friends, Schmidt and Johann. Shortly afterwards, the young Werther arrives, an amorous poet who is to accompany Charlotte, the magistrate’s daughter, to a dance instead of Albert, her fiancé, who is away. After the departure of the young couple, the magistrate goes to the nearby tavern to meet up with his friends. Unexpectedly, Albert returns, finding only Charlotte’s sister Sophie in the house. Together they talk of Albert’s impending wedding to Charlotte. Upon their return from the dance, however, Werther declares his love for Charlotte, who, in spite of being attracted to him, confesses that she promised her Mother on her death bed that she would marry Albert, and that they must therefore part. Werther leaves the house, heartbroken and desolate.
Three months later, Charlotte and Albert, now husband and wife, walk towards the village church. Werther, who has fallen into a worrying depressive state, comes out to meet them. Albert does everything possible to raise his spirits. Sophie also tries to comfort the tormented young man with all the charm she can muster. Later, alone with Charlotte, Werther recalls their first meeting. Listening to him, Charlotte comes to the conclusion that the best thing for Werther is to leave the city for a while, and so he leaves in despair.
Christmas Eve. Charlotte, aware of her love for Werther, sits reading his letters when he enters the room unexpectedly, having just returned to the city. His feelings towards her are even deeper now, and he reads her a passage of his translation of Ossian (“Pourquoi me réveiller”), in which the poet foresees his own death. Overcome with emotion, he tries to embrace her, telling her how much he loves her, but she, determined to remain faithful to her husband, turns him away, saying they must never see each other again. With a heavy heart, Werther leaves, determined to put an end to his agony. When Albert returns home and finds Charlotte distressed, he immediately understands the situation. Shortly afterwards, the servant brings a message from Werther asking Albert to lend him his pistols for a long journey. Albert makes his wife surrender the arms to the servant. Sensing a tragedy, Charlotte rides out after the servant once Albert has left her alone.
Charlotte bursts into Werther’s house, but it is too late. The young man has shot himself and lies dying on the ground. She holds him in her arms and confesses her love for him. Ecstatic at these words, Werther dies peacefully to the sound of the children’s Christmas carol in the background.