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  • Massenet’s Werther to be relayed live to cinemas on 27 June 2016

Massenet’s Werther to be relayed live to cinemas on 27 June 2016

Join presenter Simon Callow as the French opera starring Joyce DiDonato and Vittorio Grigòlo is broadcast to over 25 countries worldwide.

By Rose Slavin (Former Assistant Content Producer)

21 June 2016 at 1.15pm | Comment on this article

Benoît Jacquot’s Royal Opera production of Massenet’s tragic opera Werther will be relayed live to cinemas around the world on 27 June at 7pm BST.

Actor Simon Callow will present the broadcast from Covent Garden, in an evening that will include exclusive interviews the cast and creative team.

Download the Werther Digital Programme for free using the promo code FREEWERTHER and enjoy a range of specially selected films, articles, pictures and features to bring you closer to the production.

The Story

Werther loves Charlotte, but Charlotte has promised to marry Albert. Werther leaves to travel the world but the pair continue to write letters to each other, and their love for each other grows.

Werther is based on the German novel The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The heart-breaking story was said to be inspired by Goethe’s own experience of love as a young man.

Read our Opera Essentials guide to Werther

The Production

Massenet’s operatic interpretation distils Goethe’s Romantic masterpiece and Edouard Blau and Paul Milliet's libretto shortens the drama, intensifying the novel's depiction of two passionate people each intent on hurting the other.

Jacquot’s 2004 production for The Royal Opera includes elegant set designs by Charles Edwards, which highlight the opera’s theme of keeping up appearances while torrid passions rage beneath.

The Cast

The revival of Jacquot’s 2004 production stars American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and the Italian tenor Vittorio Grigòlo. Music director of the Royal Opera House Antonio Pappano will conduct.

DiDonato has claimed that the role of Charlotte is one she 'always knew' she had to sing while Grigòlo says that performing in the production is 'the most amazing feeling' he has had in opera.

The Music

Massenet’s score for Werther includes beautiful arias and recurring musical ideas. These include a troubled motif linked to the title character’s suicide, and the beautiful ‘Clair de lune’ fragment, first heard in Act I.

Perhaps most powerful is Charlotte's 'Air des lettres', one of the opera's most heartwrenching moments, which sees the composer give a crucial insight into his heroine's tortured soul.

Read our Musical Highlight insight into Charlotte's 'Air des lettres'

The opera was a reputation-risking gamble for Massenet, who followed a string of crowd-pleasing hits with an intimate piece 'for himself' which focused on character and internal drama.

Find out more about why Werther is one of 19th century opera's most important works.


Reviews from audiences and critics alike for Werther have been extremely positive, with praise for DiDonato and Grigòlo's performances, as well as Pappano's conducting.

Read audience reactions to Werther

Cinema audiences are also able to share their own thoughts on the production by using the hashtag  on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. A selection of these will be shared during the live cinema relay.

Werther will be broadcast live to cinemas around the world on 27 June 2016. Find your nearest cinema and sign up to our mailing list.

The production is generously sponsored by BB Energy and is given with generous philanthropic support from Mrs Susan A. Olde OBE, The Taylor Family Foundation, Susan and John Singer, Spindrift Al Swaidi and the Maestro’s Circle.

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