Werther loves Charlotte, but she is engaged to Albert and rejects the rapturous young man. On her mother's deathbed, she has promised to take Albert as her husband. After the wedding, Charlotte and Werther meet again, and she discovers that she is not indifferent to him. Werther's affection has not diminished either. Convinced of the hopelessness of the situation, Werther asks Albert for his pistols; he wants to go on a longer journey. The husband, who has become suspicious in the meantime, forces his horrified wife to hand over the weapons. Full of dark forebodings, Charlotte rushes after the unfortunate man, but she is too late - mortally wounded, he dies in her arms.
"Goethe too would certainly have applauded, he must have liked this premiere in the Frankfurt Opera. (...) Massenet's work was staged here with incredible coherence and intensity. (...) Performed as it was in Frankfurt, Massenet's Werther proves to be a real crowd puller and shows once again that great emotions are still very much in vogue today." This was the verdict of the internet portal Klassik.com after the premiere of the opera by Jules Massenet (1842-1912), which was based on Goethe's epistolary novel.