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Médée - Luigi Cherubini

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Médée - Luigi Cherubini

Opéra in three acts (1797)
Libretto by François-Benoît Hoffman after the tragedies Medea by Euripides and Médée by Pierre Corneille

In French - surtitles in German and English

Duration: app. 2 h 45 min.

New production

Colchis — even the very name upsets Dirce, so much so that the martial chorus that the assembled guests have struck up in honour of Jason and his young bride in the first scene of Luigi Cherubini’s Médée breaks off abruptly. Colchis is the home of Medea, somewhere at the edge of the civilized world; and Medea is not simply the name of the woman whom Jason has abandoned, taking their two children with him in order to begin a new life in Corinth, the kingdom of Dirce’s father Creon. Echoing as it were in Dirce’s fearful reaction is the deep disquiet that the deeds of the mythological figure of Medea have aroused for two-and-a-half millennia: after helping Jason to obtain the muchcoveted Golden Fleece in Colchis, betraying her fatherland for love of the Greek hero, perhaps even murdering her brother, Medea followed Jason to Iolcos and was said to have been responsible for the death of his royal uncle. In Corinth, betrayed and humiliated, she finally resorts to extremes: determined to make her husband suffer the ultimate punishment, she will not only slay his new wife but also her own children, fathered by Jason.

At the start of the opera the vision of dread that Medea represents for Dirce and the people of Corinth can proliferate all the more easily as Medea — unlike in Euripides’ famous dramatization of the subject — has been abandoned by Jason in a far-off place. Being absent, she offers a welcome projection surface against which Jason in particular can redeem himself. When Medea then suddenly appears in Corinth in the flesh during the wedding celebrations and begins the first of her two great arias, librettist and composer foil the expectations that have been created. We encounter a desperate mother whose children have been wrested from her, who turns imploringly to Jason. She loves him still, and the reproach of ingratitude — ‘Ingrat!’ — that erupts from her repeatedly is born of profound mortification.

Cherubini’s opera largely dispenses with the magical and supernatural aspects of the mythical figure. Here Medea is not a witch but a ‘normal’ woman — intelligent and passionate, strong and capable of loving; human above all else. Under these prem- ises her inner development towards catastrophe demands a perspective that takes nothing as inevitable or determined by fate.

Medea dominates the stage to a greater degree than the main protagonist of an opera had ever done before.


Thomas Hengelbrock Conductor
Simon Stone Director

Sonya Yoncheva Médée
Pavel Cernoch Jason
Vitalij Kowaljow Créon
Rosa Feola Dircé
Alisa Kolosova Néris

Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus
Ernst Raffelsberger Chorus Master

Vienna Philharmonic


July 30 - August 19, 2019
Großes Festspielhaus


Médée- PREMIERE only available with another Festival-Performance:
Médée - Premiere-Arrangements



Médée with Sonya Yoncheva
Saalplan Großes Festspielhaus, Salzburg

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category 4: Red
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category 7: Yellow



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