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At the Carlo Felice in Genoa Dante Ferretti, three-time Oscar winner, signs the new staging of Massenet's 'Werther', with Donato Renzetti on the podium
The French composer's score is an extraordinary transposition into music of the explosive novel, the first true international bestseller, which consecrated the young Goethe to European fame
Organized by: Carlo Felice Theater Foundation of Genoa
Under 18, 15 euros – Under 30, 25 euros

Carlo Felice Theater Foundation of Genoa Presents

“Opera Season 2023/24”
All 'Opera Carlo Felice in Genoa from 17 to 26 November 2023 will be on stage Werther, lyric drama in four acts by Jules Massenet, with a libretto by Edouard Blau, Paul Milliet and Georges Hartmann, based on the famous epistolary novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther.

Second title of Opera Season 2023-2024, the new setup is created by Carlo Felice Theater Foundation in co-production with theater Zagreb national team, marking a new step in the international collaborations of the Genoese Lirico, after the recent one with the Royal Opera House of Muscat, Oman, for Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream. The new production sees the meeting of two great masters, Dante Ferretti, internationally reference set designer, winner of three Oscars, who signs direction, sets and costumes, and Donato Renzetti, among the most appreciated Italian conductors in the world and director emeritus of the Theatre, who returns to the podium ofOrchestra and children's choir of the Carlo Felice Opera.

On stage a cast of international performers, with Jean-François Borras in the role of Werther, Caterina Piva making her debut in the role of Charlotte, Jérôme Boutillier as Albert, and again Armando Gabba (Le Bailli), Roberto brood (Schmidt),Marco Camastra (Johann), Hélène Carpentier (Sophie), Emilio Cesar Leonelli (Brühlmann) e Daniela Aloisi (Kätchen). White voices are prepared by Gino Tanasini, the lighting design is by Daniele Nannuzzi.

Massenet, at the time an opera composer already established throughout Europe, I began to compose the Werther around 1885, more than a century after the publication of the epistolary novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther, which made the 25-year-old Goethe famous throughout Europe and triggered a true "Wertherian fever" which impacted many aspects of social and cultural life. A great admirer of Goethe's novel, emblem of the Sturm und Drang, Jules Massenet drew inspiration from it for the work which today is counted among his greatest masterpieces.

«The score that Massenet wrote for Werther - explains Donato Renzetti – is complex and vibrant, and powerfully conveys the emotional intensity of the narrative. It is like a stormy sea: unlike the composer's previous successes, Manon Lescaut and Hérodiade, it is not divided into closed pieces, but each act flows with continuity and the orchestration is of a unique refinement, free from rigid patterns. In all the melodies one can recognize hints that recall Tchaikovsky, Schubert and Schumann, even Jupiter's Mozart. But it is to Wagner that Massenet pays his most incisive homage, creating the leitmotif that always accompanies Werther in his tragic and adventurous obsession with love."

«Staging the Werther by Massenet – he comments Dante Ferretti  – means conveying the passion and the underground madness that pervade the protagonist and which, as time passes, overflow, devouring the small perfect world of the most narrow-minded province. There is no possibility of reconciliation: the contrasts between the rules dictated by social conventions and love in its most romantic sense only produce pain and death. For the Opera Carlo Felice's Werther I imagined a very cinematic vision – continues Ferretti – after all I have worked on 95 films... The first scene is majestic, similar to a summer where everything seems perfect. The square with the wedding church in the second act and the interior of Albert and Charlotte's house in the third show us precisely that bourgeois structure that, in vain, Werther will try to penetrate. But it is the last act that violently reveals the tragic ending. The young man will take his own life in a garage, alone and without the comfort of the domestic walls or his beloved nature. The protagonist's youth and love end like a bad dream where only Charlotte will be left to contemplate his defeat. The 1930s setting that I chose for this performance captures, in my opinion, this dichotomy perfectly."  


The work, completed in 1887, was initially proposed to the director of the Opéra-Comique, Léhon Carvalho, one of the most successful impresarios in Paris, who however rejected the score. The work debuted only a few years later, in February 1892, in a German version at the Vienna Opera, where it achieved good success. The Paris revival of 1903 marked the true consecration of Werther, which subsequently had an impressive number of performances throughout Europe, becoming one of Massenet's most beloved works, together with the almost contemporary Hérodiade, Manon and Thäis.
At the Carlo Felice in Genoa Dante Ferretti, three-time Oscar winner, signs the new staging of Massenet's 'Werther', with Donato Renzetti on the podium

Other information of interest

The first Foyer of the Theater also hosts the exhibition Once upon a time, where until Sunday 26th it will be possible to admire some pictorial works by Dante Ferretti. The exhibition is made up of 11 works and can be visited exclusively during Werther's performances.

On November 15, 2023, at 4.30 pm, again in the Foyer of the Theater, Dante Ferretti will present his book Imagine First. My two births, cinema, the Oscars.

A world-famous set designer, Ferretti has collaborated with directors of the caliber of Pier Paolo Pasolini, Federico Fellini, Terry Gilliam, Franco Zeffirelli, Anthony Minghella, Martin Scorsese, Tim Burton and Brian De Palma, winning, among many recognitions, three Academy Awards for set design with The Aviator in 2005, Sweeney Todd in 2008 and Hugo Cabret in 2012. His works and sketches have been exhibited at the Academy Awards, the Smithsonian Institution and the MoMa in New York.  


Characters and performers

Werther Jean-François Borras
Albert Jérôme Boutillier
Le Bailli Armando Gabba
Schmidt Roberto Covatta
Johann Marco Camastra
Charlotte Caterina Piva
Sophie Hélène Carpentier
Brühlmann Emilio Cesar Leonelli 
Katchen Daniela Aloisi

Soloists of the children's choir
Maria Guano, Leonardo Loi, Nicoletta Storace, Erica Giordano, Denise Colla, Sofia Macvò, Lucilla Romano, Alice Manara, Giulia Nastase, Vittoria Trapasso

Concert master
and conductor
Donato Renzetti

Direction, sets and costumes Dante Ferretti
Lights Daniele Nannuzzi

Orchestra, children's choir and technicians
of the Opera Carlo Felice Genoa
Master of the Children's Choir Gino Tanasini

New layout of the Carlo Felice Theater Foundation of Genoa
in co-production with HNK – Croatian National Theater in Zagreb


Drama Lyrique in Four Acts by Jules Massenet

with a libretto by Edouard Blau, Paul Milliet and Georges Hartmann
from the novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


17 November 2023 at 8pm 'before'
(cancelled due to the strike of workers of the opera-symphony foundations)
performances 19 and 26 November at 3pm, 24 November at 8pm

Who organizes

Carlo Felice Theater Foundation of GenoaThe Carlo Felice Theatre,… more

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