In an original production, conceived and directed by Andreas Mitisek, Goethe's novel Sorrows Of Young Werther is interwoven with music of Schubert's Winterreise (Winter Journey). Both stories tell of unrequited love leading to emotional turmoil and a search for life's meaning. These tales not only mirror actual events in Goethe's life, but reflect Schubert's disillusionment as he neared death at the age of 31. Schubert's rich music and Mueller's romantic poetry propel the heart and soul of Goethe's young Werther along a journey of internal struggle to eventual acceptance and peace.
Against every better judgment I could possibly summon under the circumstances, Mitisek has, indeed, worked out a conflation of these two trajectories down the dark road of heartbreak and self-destruction, and played them off against each other without violating the integrity of either.
For staging there was a cluttered attic room, a bedand scattered trash... Unfeeling, rejecting Lotte was done in dumb show by a dancer, Jennifer Hart Jackson. At the very end, when the dead Werther lay in her lap, she extended one hand in a caress – a small directorial touch that I found extremely moving. Michelle Schumann was the pianist, behind a scrim. Midway,...the slow movement of Schubert’s last piano sonata, which, in this context, became the saddest music in the world – and also, at that moment at least, the most beautiful.
Two geniuses tell one tale
Long Beach Opera director puts Goethe to music with Schubert's 'Winterreise' for a unique love story.
Mitisek conceived the action as a flashback after Werther's suicide. When we first see him, he has a bloodstain on his chest. This causes some confusion. Is he a ghost when he sings his first song with Lotte cuddled on his lap and then carries her to his bed, or is he fantasizing? But where, and when? Fortunately, these narrative questions soon fade under the growing strength of the performance.
Concept & Stage Director: Andreas Mitisek
Stage Designer: Alan Muraoka
Pianist: Michelle Schuman
Werther: Erik N. Werner
Lotte: Jennifer Hart Jackson