Marc-Antoine Charpentier's crowning achievement and testament
“Adieu, Jason, j’ay remply ma vengeance.
Voyant Corinthe en feu, ses Palais embrasez,
pleure à jamais les maux que ta flâme a causez.”
Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704)
Medée (Act V, Scene 8)
Tragedie mise en musique in five acts and a prologue from a libretto by Thomas Corneille was the first opera based on this fascinating mythological character: Medea. Lully had the privilege of being the composer of court operas, and Charpentier was therefore devoted to pastoral compositions and religious music. At the age of 50 he was able to write his Medée. The timid public reception in Paris made the composer shun other attempts in this genre, and so it remained his only opera: the composer’s crowning achievement and testament.
First performed at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal in Paris on 4 December 1693, it has a richness of music and dramatic force that is all-consuming. Its plot tells a tale of betrayal, myth, rage and sorcery in which Medea, abandoned by her husband Jason, will use her magic for a terrible revenge, poisoning her rival Créuse and killing her own children in order to destroy her husband Jason’s happiness. He will survive to prolong his suffering. An example of vicarious violence, faced with the impossibility of finding a new path. A pathology born of an infinity of cracks that are impossible to overcome.
The work needs a protagonist who is a character beyond measure. In this case, Magdalena Kožená will be entrusted with the role of Medée; accompanied by the sensitive and extraordinary Sir Simon Rattle conducting the Freiburger Barockorchester.
Possessing a first-rate tragic talent, comfortable in French prosody, the Czech singer will offer a multi-faceted portrait of Médée: from the pain of Jason’s abandonment to humiliation, passing through madness and her murderous fury. Voice, gaze and gesture aligned in an intense performance in Charpentier’s first at the Liceu.
With the support of:
OPERA IN A PROLOGUE AND FIVE ACTS
Libretto by Thomas Corneille based on Euripides’ homonymous tragedy.
World premiere: 04/12/1693 at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal in Paris
- Approximate running time 3h 30min