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SF Opera's Werther

Werther Medallion Society Book Club Meeting

Werther Book Club, photo from Cory Weaver and San Francisco Opera The Last Chinese Unicorn wrote up this piece about this recent event in the Littlefield Intermezzo Lounge of the War Memorial Opera House, pictured left, photo from Cory Weaver and San Francisco Opera.

* Notes *
Tonight is the opening of Massenet's Werther (pronounced Vair-tair). This past Saturday before the final dress rehearsal, the Opera Tattler and I attended the first book club meeting organized by the SF Opera for its Medallion Society members to discuss Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther (Die Leiden des jungen Werthers), the epistolary novel upon which the opera is based. We were surprised and delighted by the great turnout. Though most were grey-haired opera lovers, we did spot a few young people in their 20s. There was also a Goethe scholar in the mix who made some valuable contributions to the discussion. With this particular opera, because it is more of a psychological drama without an intricate plot, I found it very useful to revisit the literary text before watching the performance. It certainly helped make sense of the video element of the production. Here are some of the topics that we covered in the meeting:

* Albert (rational, responsible, stable) being the antithesis of Werther (emotional, maudlin, reckless)
* Jean-Jacques Rousseau & Romanticism
* Parallels between Werther and Faust
* Werther's descent into madness
* Werther fever and copycat suicides
* The role of Nature in the novel

As for the production itself...stay tuned for the Opera Tattler's review of the opening night show. My lips are tightly sealed!

* Tattling * 
Two young ladies with interesting head accessories came strolling in late. One even had the audacity to march up front and sit right next to the moderator. What a shameless lass!