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NU 6072
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NU 6072
(this is a multiple CD album sold separately)


The Classical Shop
release date: November 2008


Jean-Claude Casadesus

Jean-Philippe Marliere


Jean-Sebestiene Bou


Rene Massis


Jael Azzaretti


Jean Delescluse


Marcus Haddock



Iestyn Rees

Record Label



Total Time - 121:24
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1 Act I - Prelude 3:46
2 Act I - Assez! Assez! 6:31
3 Act I - Alors, c'est bien ici 4:24
4 Act I - Jesus vient de naitre... 5:18
5 Act I - O spectacle ideal d'amour... 3:00
6 Act I - Sophie!... Albert! Toi de retour? 1:59
7 Act I - Elle m'aime! Elle pense a moi! 2:08
8 Act I - Orchestral Interlude 1:14
9 Act I - Il faut nous separer... 3:22
10 Act I - Mais vous ne savez rien de moi... 5:15
11 Act I - Charlotte! Charlotte! Albert est de retour! 1:39
12 Act II - Prelude 1:08
13 Act II - Vivat Bacchus! Semper vivat! 3:55
14 Act II - Trois mois! Voici trois mois que nous sommes unis 2:09
15 Act II - Un autre est son epoux! 3:49
16 Act II - Au bonheur dont mon ame est plein... 3:16
17 Act II - Frere! Voyez le beau bouquet! 3:08
18 Act II - Ai-je dit vrai? 8:31
19 Act II - Lorsque l'enfant revient d'un voyage avant l'heure... 3:45

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1 Act III - Prelude 2:58
2 Act III - Werther... Werther... 6:14
3 Act III - Bonjour, grande soeur... 3:21
4 Act III - Va! laisse couler mes larmes 2:53
5 Act III - Alors! C'est convenu, tu viendras? 1:08
6 Act III - Ah! mon courage m'abandonne! 1:57
7 Act III - Oui! c'est moi... 5:01
8 Act III - Toute mon ame est la! 'Pourquoi me reveiller, o souffle du printemps...' 2:28
9 Act III - N'achevez pas! Helas! ce desespoir... 2:28
10 Act III - Ah! Moi! moi! dens ses bras! 2:21
11 Act III - Werther est de retour 2:55
12 Act IV - La Nuit de Noel 4:14
13 Act IV - Werther! Werther! 1:26
14 Act IV - Qui parle? 4:00
15 Act IV - Oui, du jour meme ou tu parus 3:23
16 Act IV - Noel! Noel! Noel! 1:49
17 Act IV - Ah! ses yeux se ferment! 4:31
 Jael Azzaretti soprano
 Jean-Sebestiene Bou baritone
 Jean Delescluse tenor
 Marcus Haddock tenor
 Jean-Philippe Marliere baritone
 Rene Massis baritone
 Jean-Claude Casadesus

 Success came to Massenet through the support of his teacher at the Conservatoire, Ambroise Thomas, and of his enterprising publisher Georges Hartmann. In 1872 he won his first operatic triumph with the Victor Hugo adaptation Don César de Bazan, followed, in 1873 by the sacred drama Marie-Magdeleine, a choice of heroine that was characteristic in an age that made much of the repentance of a fallen woman. Manon, in 1884, established his position without question, although the next opera, Le Cid, staged at the Opéra in 1885, failed to please. The coincidence of a new libretto, based on a medieval romance, and a meeting with the young American soprano Sybil Sanderson, lay behind the opéra romanesque Esclarmonde, in which the title rô1e was designed to exploit the remarkable range and quality of the young prima donna. The work was staged at the Opéra-Comique in 1890 and impressed a Parisian audience increased by the Exhibition of 1889.
Massenet’s opera Werther has a libretto attributed to Edouard Blau, Paul Milliet and Georges Hartmann, based on the immensely influential novel by Goethe, Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther). Written in 1774, published in the same year and revised in 1786, the novel, regarded by many as epitomizing the Sturm und Drang period of German literature, deals with events supposed to have taken place in 1771 and 1772, reflecting to some extent Goethe’s own experiences in Wetzlar in the latter year. There he had fallen in love with Lotte Buff, whose situation was similar to that of the Lotte of the novel. Lotte Buff, on the death of her mother, had taken charge of her sixteen younger siblings and was engaged to Johann Georg Christian Kestner, whom she married the following year. Kestner’s friend, Karl Wilhelm Jerusalem, had been in love with another married woman, borrowed pistols from Kestner, and shot himself. Both situations are used in Goethe’s book, which caused Kestner some offence. Its effect on its wider readership, however, was even more considerable, as young men dressed in the style of Werther, with a blue coat and yellow breeches, and young men and women contemplated suicide for love, an act that the novel seemed to encourage, or, at least, to condone.The first suggestion of a libretto on the subject of Werther had come from Milliet and Hartmann in 1882 and by 1885 something had been produced, allowing Massenet to begin work on it. He was influenced by a visit with Hartmann to Bayreuth in 1886, when he saw Parsifal and, returning by way of Wetzlar, read Goethe’s novel for the first time, in a French translation, if Massenet’s own account of events is to be believed. The French text is by Blau and Milliet, while the publisher Hartmann, generously credited with a share in the authorship and with the provision of the original stimulus, may have sketched out the scenario. Massenet completed the score in 1887, and after earlier refusals and hesitations in Paris it was accepted for Vienna, after the success there of Manon in 1890, to be staged at the Court Opera in a German version in 1892. It had its first performance in Paris by the Opéra-Comique at the Théâtre Lyrique in January 1893, but was withdrawn from the repertoire the following year. There were performances abroad, however, and in other towns in France. It was only ten years later, in a revival under Albert Carré at the Opéra-Comique in 1903, that the work struck home, to retain a firm place ever since in French operatic repertoire. The year was one of continuing success for Massenet, who had four of his works billed at the Opéra-Comique in one week. It also brought sadness in the early death of Sybil Sanderson, who had created the rôles of Esclarmonde and Thaïs, and had achieved such success in Manon. In 1902 Massenet arranged the tenor rôle of Werther for baritone, a version that is sometimes followed.

Keith Anderson

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