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The Sorrows of Young Werther 1992

August 1 - 22, 1992

Goethe’s theme of tragic love…

… is re-examined in Werther’s struggle with the elemental forces of reality, dreams and fantasy.

Music By
Hans-Jürgen von Bose
Libretto By
Filippo Sanjust and Hans-Jürgen von Bose

Synopsis

Act I

Werther has abandoned Leonore. Arriving in a small provincial town, he makes the acquaintance of several of the locals. They arouse his curiosity about Lotte, the Bailiff’s daughter, whom they promise to point out at the upcoming party. Lotte’s girlfriends flirt with Werther, yet warn him not to fall in love with Lotte, as she is engaged to marry.

At the party, Werther invites Lotte to dance. Although she tells him that she is engaged to Albert, this does not discourage Werther’s growing interest in her, or prevent him from insisting that they meet again.

Werther watches as Lotte, in place of their dead mother, cares for her many brothers and sisters. Like a child, Werther longs for the security and harmony of Lotte’s family circle. During these happy hours, which give him a feeling of deep satisfaction, Werther forgets the existence of Albert. When Albert returns from a journey and greets Werther in a kindly way, the young man persuades himself that it is Lotte who has put in a good word for him.

But Werther’s image of Albert is illusory, and the comradeship of the three young people proves to be fragile. Albert and Lotte are greatly distressed by Werther’s macabre charade with Albert’s pistol, which escalates to a heated argument over the issue of suicide. Out of control, Werther scornfully calls Albert a smug petty bourgeois and violently defends the moral integrity of a freely chosen death.

After the argument, Albert and Lotte make a pretense of comradeship, but they depart awkward and hurt. Then, as if nothing has happened, Werther receives a birthday greeting in the form of a gift from the young couple. But he has come to recognize that his desire to be understood and loved by Lotte is hopeless. He feels that he has lost all sense of self-worth and sees his existence as sheer torment. Reaffirming his love for Lotte, he exclaims that he will meet her in the all-embracing life to come. He flees the town.

Intermezzo

Werther’s flight carries him to a distant provincial court. Having heard of Lotte’s marriage during his absence, Werther tries to forget her through a disciplined life style, but his resolve breaks down under the demands of the courtly life. Disgusted and frustrated, Werther blames his woes on his own lack of control and resolve.

Act II

Contrary to all reason, Werther returns to the village. If he cannot love Lotte, at least he may be near her. With pleasurable anticipation, he fantasizes that Albert is dead and that he himself leads a happy life with Lotte.

Only too well does Werther identify with the sorrows of a-peasant boy, whose beloved, a Widow, has abandoned him for a new servant. Deeply disturbed by the boy’s tale, Werther cries out that no one can understand his own suffering and that Lotte seems more and more withdrawn from him. Obsessively, he considers the idea of obtaining the long sought kiss from her by force.

The willingness of men to risk everything for their own happiness leads to madness; Werther learns from the fate of Heinrich, who wanders about in midwinter, seeking summer flowers for his lost sweetheart. Heinrich dreamily tells of his happy past, when he was in love. Werther identifies with Heinrich’s experiences and his mistakes.

When the peasant boy is convicted of the murder of the Widow’s servant, Werther is moved to defend the miserable young man’s plight. Furiously, he rails against the cruel indifference of the burgers of the village, including Albert, who demand the death of the murderer. As the young man is led away, Werther delivers his eulogy on the boy’s frustrated love, and his own for Lotte: “We cannot be saved.”

The episode of the country boy has faded from Werther’s mind like an evil phantom and he returns to Lotte. As he helps her with preparations for Christmas, she begs him not to visit her again before the holiday celebration. She makes it clear that she can never reciprocate his love. To her question, “Is it not the impossibility of possessing me that makes this desire so over-whelming?”, Werther reacts with a cry of anguish.

Werther resolves to destroy himself.

Artists

Kurt Ollman headshot

Kurt Ollmann

Baritone

Werther

Charlotte Hellekant

Charlotte Hellekant

Mezzo-soprano

Leonore/Lotte

Jake Gardner

Jake Gardner

Baritone

Albert/Clerk

Mark Thomsen headshot

Mark Thomsen

Tenor

A Peasant/Young Man/Clerk

Dale Travis headshot

Dale Travis

Bass-baritone

A Bailiff/Clerk

John Kuether headshot

John Kuether

Bass

A Doctor/Citizen

Ann Panagulias headshot

Ann Panagulias

Soprano

Lisa/Society Lady/Citizen

Santa Fe Opera

Jeffrey Reynolds

Tenor

Young Scholar/ Clerk/ Heinrich/ Citizen

Santa Fe Opera

Clarity James

Mezzo-soprano

Older Woman/Society Lady/Widow/Heinrich's Mother/Citizen

Santa Fe Opera

James Hoback

Tenor

Young Man/ Servant/ Society Gentleman/ Citizen

Herbert Perry headshot

Herbert Perry

Bass-baritone

Clergyman/Society Gentleman/Citizen

Kerry Walsh

Kerry Walsh

Soprano

Lena/Society Lady/Citizen

Carl Tanner headshot

Carl Tanner

Tenor

An Ambassador

Santa Fe Opera

Patricia Prunty

Soprano

Fraulein von B.

Laura Knoop

Laura Knoop

Soprano

Madrigalist

Ellen Rabiner headshot

Ellen Rabiner

Contralto

Madrigalist

Santa Fe Opera

Julia Anne Wolf

Mezzo-soprano

Madrigalist

Santa Fe Opera

Patrick Jones

Tenor

Madrigalist

Derrick Lawrence

Derrick Lawrence

Bass-baritone

Madrigalist

George Manahan headshot

George Manahan

Conductor

Francesca Zambello headshot

Francesca Zambello

Director

Bruno Schwengl headshot

Bruno Schwengl

Scenic Designer

Craig Miller headshot

Craig Miller

Lighting Designer

Kimberly Mackin headshot

Kimberly Mackin

Choreographer

Gary Wedow headshot

Gary Wedow

Chorus Master