The success obtained in 1999 by the revival of Roma, the opera by Massenet which had fallen into oblivion after its Montecarlo and Paris premieres, encouraged the Festival of Martina Franca to explore other scores by this composer, who is very appreciated in Italy.
The version of Werther here featured is the one Massenet adapted for the legendary baritone Mattia Battistini. The composer was on excellent terms with Battistini and welcomed the singer’s proposal to transpose Werther’s part from tenor to baritone. The new version of Werther was always sung by Battistini in Italian; the famous baritone never dared appear in this role in France, where he would have been obliged to sing it in French. The first baritone version of Werther was given in Warsaw on 18th November 1901.