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As part of the Opera Explained series, experienced radio broadcaster and voice talent David Timson delivers a Thomson Smillie lecture on the 19th-century opera Werther. Jules Massenet was one of the most successful composers of 19th-century France and Werther one of his most celebrated works.
With lush audio clips from relevant operas this lecture guides you through the history of the French opera from the 17th century up through Werther’s time and the Grand Operas of the Palais Garnier in Paris. The tragic love plot of Werther, based on the novel by Goethe, is explained and dissected alongside Massanet’s compositional techniques. Timson’s engaging performance along with the sumptuous sound clips provide a palpable history lesson and aural treat for any lover of great opera.
Massenet’s Werther combines a deeply tender story with music of beauty and eloquence. One act alone contains two of the greatest arias in the repertoire: the mezzo-soprano aria "Va! Laisse couler mes larmes" and the tenor’s "Pourquoi me rèveiller". In their sentimental power and melodic richness these arias encapsulate the qualities that account for the universal popularity of this great work.
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