Later this month Médée opens the Met season in its well-known mid-19th century Italian edition, but Trove Thursday offers Cherubini’s 1797 work in two very different French versions led by Shirley Verrett and Rosalind Plowright, along with a pair of earlier works featuring the lethal sorceress: Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Médée starring Anna Caterina Antonacci and Cavalli’s Il Giasone in which Valer Sabadus is bedeviled by Kristina Hammarström.

A woman who sacrifices all for a man only to be abandoned driving her to infanticide is an obvious operatic anti-heroine. In addition to today’s three Medea operas, Trove Thursday has previously posted Lully’s Thésée and Handel’s Teseo, both of which deal with the witch’s tumultuous post-Jason life.

Another lesser-known depiction would be Mayr’s Medea in Corinto which has been commercially recorded by Marisa Galvany and Jane Eaglen. Cherubini’s opera can also be heard in live broadcasts with Inge Borkh in German and Eileen Farrell in Italian on a Trove Thursday post from four years ago.

Today’s Médées feature Plowright in the original opéra-comique with spoken dialogue, as well as the bizarre edition Verrett performed at the Paris Opéra—the 1854 German version with the Lechner accompanied recitatives all retranslated back into French, perhaps a cockamamie stab at authenticity.

It’s too bad that Antonacci waited until just recently to appear in a pre-Gluck French opera. What a marvelous Phèdre in Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricue she would have been! It must be admitted that this Geneva performance is rather late but it’s fascinating, particularly alongside her celebrated interpretation of the Cherubini which she, like so many others, performed in Italian. Galvany, Leyla Gencer and Najda Michael tackled both Cherubini and Mayr, but I wonder if any other divas have tackled more than one Medea.

Next year in Paris, Karine Deshayes will take on the Lully Médée a week before Vèronique Gens at last casts Charpentier’s spells.

The Met, whose new production by Sir David McVicar is being mounted for Sondra Radvanovsky, is co-sponsoring with Film at Lincoln Center a screening of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s controversial film of Medea starring Maria Callas, the most famous interpreter of the Cherubini role, on September 20.

Cavalli: Il Giasone

Medea: Kristina Hammarström
Isifile/Sole: Kristina Mkhitaryan
Alinda: Mariana Flores
Amore: Mary Feminear
Giasone: Valer Sabadus
Ercole: Alexander Milev
Besso: Günes Gürle
Egeo: Raúl Giménez
Oreste/Giove: Willard White
Demo/Volano: Migran Agadzhanyan
Delfa Eolo: Dominique Visse

Cappella Mediterranea

Conductor: Leonardo García Alarcón

Grand Théâtre de Genève
3 January 2017


M-A. Charpentier: Médée

Médée: Anna Caterina Antonacci
Créuse/1er fantôme: Keri Fuge
Nérine: Alexandra Dobos-Rodriguez
Cléone/Amour/1er captive: Magali Léger
Jason: Cyril Auvity
Oronte: Charles Rice
Créon: Willard White
Arcas/Argien/Vengeance: Alban Legos
Un corinthien/Jalousie/3eme captive/2eme corinthien: Jérémie Schütz
Une femme italienne/2eme captive/2eme fantôme: Mi-Young Kim
1er corinthien/Argien: José Pazos

Chœr du Grand Théâtre de Genève

Cappella Mediterranea

Conductor: Leonardo García Alarcón

Grand Théâtre de Genève

11 May 2019


Cherubini: Médée (original version with abridged spoken dialogue)

Médée: Rosalind Plowright
Dircé: Paula Bott
Néris: Moira Griffiths
Servantes: Susan Bisatt & Kate McCarney
Jason: Howard Haskin
Créon: Sergios Kalabakos
Conductor: Anthony Hose

Buxton Festival
28 July 1984


Cherubini Médée (1854 German version with accompanied recitatives by Franz Paul Lachner, translated back into French)

Médée: Shirley Verrett
Dircé: Anne-Marie Rodde
Néris: Nadine Denize
Servantes: Lucia Scappatucci & Martine Mahé
Jason: Werner Hollweg
Créon: Jean-Philippe Lafont

Conductor: Pinchas Steinberg

Palais Garnier

10 March 1986

In-house recording

Today’s four Medea operas can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a loud with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 files will appear in your download directory.

In addition, nearly 600 other podcast tracks are always available from Apple Podcasts for free, or via any RSS reader.

An archive which lists all Trove Thursday offerings in alphabetical order by composer has recently been updated.