Werther

Synopsis

Saturday, 15th December 2012
7.30 pm

  1. 15.12.2012
  2. 7:30 p.m.

As an old man, Goethe expressed the wish that “Mozart should have composed Faust”. This wish did not come true, but one of his contemporaries – and the equal of a Gluck, Mozart or Haydn – did compose Werther: Gaetano Pugnani. Pugnani was a typical representative of the transition to Viennese Classicism and was especially highly admired by violin virtuosos into the 20th century. Of course, Pugnani was only able to transfer about a quarter of Goethe’s epistolary novel to the stage, and he did so in Italian. Pugnani wrote his two-part “melologue” at around the time that Goethe was in Italy. The two men never met, however. It also seems that in the years that followed Goethe remained unaware of this composition’s existence. In a dialogue between the music and the performers, as it were, Pugnani on the one hand skilfully picks up the plot’s growing drama and on the other already anticipates Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. The genre of melodrama opens up a huge number of possible means of expression and interpretations. Unfortunately this blend of music and literature that complement each other so interestingly was forgotten. Pugnani’s legendary work was lost for a long time. In 1996, nearly 200 years after it was performed at Vienna’s Burgtheater, it was rediscovered in the musical archives of the Vienna Philharmonic and reconstructed. The version now presented at the Theater an der Wien combines Pugnani’s music with the original German text of Werther. Music and literature merge to create a marvellous cosmos of sentimentality, love and
despair.