The leading American lyric mezzo-soprano, Joyce DiDonato – who is about to sing Charlotte in the Royal Opera’s production of Werther – has a clear idea of how a grand love makes its artistic impact. “The passion must be searingly deep, the obstacles seemingly insurmountable, and characters utterly captivating so that we are rooting for them with all we have,” she said. “Perhaps it’s a question of the idea that ‘true love conquers all’: the stronger the adversity, the greater the love.”
Both Werther, which is based on Goethe’s 1774 bestseller The Sorrows of Young Werther, and Tristan and Isolde, are operas heavily imbued with the thinking of the German thinker Arthur Schopenhauer. As the crowned “philosopher of pessimism” he believed that human intellect merely brought clarity to the levels of suffering and misery available. The only true mission of man (he was not bothered so much with women) was to control their insatiable, blind will, and that, once done, left nothing but death.