Libretto by François-Benoît Hoffman (F)
2S,M,T,BBar; small roles:2S,1spoken role; silent roles; mixed chorus;
2(I=picc).2.2.2-4.0.1(+1 opt trb).0-timp-strings; wind instruments from orchestra and thunder machine off-stage
World premiere of version
Theater an der Wien, Wien
Torsten Fischer, director / Iano Tamar / Zoran Todorovich / Arnold Schoenberg Chor / Wiener Symphoniker / Fabio Luisi
The commanding role of Medea provokes both sympathy and dismay; Cherubini’s music draws us into her inner struggle, the dramatic shift from love to devastating hatred. Rather than focussing on the plot itself, however, the opera explores the psychological processes experienced by the characters. With its stylistic diversity, its dark grandeur and sublimity as well as its grand, self-contained musical scenes, Médée points far beyond the operas of Cherubini’s contemporaries. Hence the acclaim for the work expressed by Haydn, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Wagner and Brahms does not come as a surprise; indeed, Brahms went so far as to praise Médée as the “highest dramatic art”.
“Cullmann’s rightly award-winning version removes all these alterations. Now, a sharp, budding piece of music theatre emerges to excite the audience, for which the generic concept opéra-comique is intended – as much for Médée as for Carmen. However, above all, in the Callas recordings of Medea the classical performance style seems bloodless and empty. In Brussels, with Christoph Rousset and his orchestra Les Talents Lyriques, experts in historical performance present the Cullman version for the first time, and already by the F minor overture, this results in a storm of passion breaking the bounds and rules of convention.” Süddeutsche Zeitung