Teatro Regio, Sunday 5 October 2008 - Wednesday 22 October 2008

Sponsored by Gruppo Fondiaria Sai


Medea, stage photo

«Medea, what we musicians recognise as the height of dramatic music» - thus wrote Johannes Brahms, and among the admirers of Luigi Cherubini’s opera we can list Beethoven (who, after hearing it in Vienna in 1802, declared that Cherubini was the greatest opera composer of the period), Schubert, Schumann (who compared the composer to another Florentine, Dante), Weber, Spohr, and Wagner. Euripides, Seneca and Corneille are the theatrical “fathers” of Medea, while in music, before Cherubini, there had already been Charpentier, Salomon, Rameau, Benda and Naumann.

On the libretto by the Frenchman François-Benoît Hoffmann, Cherubini wrote a tragedy in three acts, staged at the Théâtre Feydeau de Paris on 13 March 1797 to great success, thanks also to the interpretation of the protagonist, Julie-Angélique Scio. The opera was a triumph in Germany, but arrived in Italy only in 1909 ( at la Scala, in the Italian version by Carlo Zangarini, the same version to be presented at Regio). It was Maria Callas who restored it to the repertoire with her performances at Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and at la Scala in 1953. Eugenio Montale, at the time also music critic for the “Corriere d’Informazione”, wrote about the opera after the la Scala performances in 1961 in this way: «the fact is that Medea leaves the impression (or illusion?) of Gluck brought to the threshold of modern expressionism. Here, Cherubini truly reaches “his” essential, which wasn’t the melody, but with it, a way of entangling his character, of ensnaring it and leading it to the day of reckoning».


Main data

Composer: Luigi Cherubini
Librettist: François-Benoît Hoffmann
Year of the first performance: 1797 Parigi