Jules Émile Frédéric Massenet (1842 – 1912) was a
French composer best known for his operas. His
compositions were very popular in the late 19th and
early 20th centuries, and he ranks as one of the
greatest melodists of his era. Soon after his death,
Massenet's style went out of fashion, and many of his
operas fell into almost total oblivion. Apart from
Manon and Werther, his works were rarely performed.
Werther is an opera (drame lyrique) in four acts by
Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Édouard Blau,
Paul Milliet and Georges Hartmann (who used the
pseudonym Henri Grémont). It is loosely based on the
German epistolary novel The Sorrows of Young Werther by
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, which was based both on
fact and on Goethe's own early life. Earlier examples
of operas using the story were made by Kreutzer (1792)
and Pucitta (1802). Charlotte is one of the few who can
bring some sunshine into Werther’s world of Sturm und
Drang, and though she may reciprocate his feelings for
her, she’s married to another man.
Shortly after the famous “Letter Scene,” where she
re-reads correspondence between her and Werther,
Charlotte sings “Va! laisse couler mes larmes” to
Sophie, her younger, more optimistic sister, telling
her that it is sometimes a good thing to grieve, and
not be consoled. The aria is compact, dense, and
moving, and it’s also a difficult sing.
Although this piece was originally written for Soprano
& Piano, I created this arrangement of the Aria: "Va!
laisse couler mes larmes" (Charlotte's Aria) from
"Werther" for Viola & Piano.