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Review Roundup: The Met Opera Opens New Season With MEDEA

Review Roundup: The Met Opera Opens New Season With MEDEA

Now on stage through October 28th.

Having triumphed at the Met in some of the repertory's fiercest soprano roles, Sondra Radvanovsky opens the new season as the mythic sorceress who will stop at nothing in her quest for vengeance-a tour-de-force role made famous by opera's ultimate diva, Maria Callas.

A co-production of the Metropolitan Opera, Greek National Opera, Canadian Opera Company, and Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Met premiere of Cherubini's rarely performed masterpiece marks Radvanovsky's fourth new production with director David McVicar, who also designed the sets for this vivid, atmospheric staging, simultaneously classical, updated, and timeless. Joining Radvanovsky are tenor Matthew Polenzani as Medea's Argonaut husband, Giasone; soprano Janai Brugger as her rival for his love, Glauce; bass Michele Pertusi as her father, Creonte, the King of Corinth; and mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova as Medea's confidante, Neris.

In an impressive fall trifecta at the Met, Maestro Carlo Rizzi conducts Medea, in addition to Don Carlo and Tosca.

A fiery retelling of a seminal Greek myth, Medea is as compelling as it is disturbing, never more so than when the title character enacts her revenge on her unfaithful lover by taking the lives of their two children. Cherubini composed the opera at the tail end of the French Revolution, and as such, it fills a musical and dramatic gap between the noble gravitas of 18th-Century Theater and the more visceral beauty of later Romantic operas.

Photo: Marty Sohl / Met Opera

Let's see what the critics have to say!

David Salazar, Opera Wire: One of the reasons that this brilliant opera doesn't get the stage time is because it's main role is a monster for any soprano that attempts it. The vocal line stretches a soprano from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows with everything in between. And nothing is out of the realm of possibility. One moment, Cherubini has a soprano in the upper range and a few notes later she has to descend all the way to the bottom. Maximum versatility is required. But not just technical, but also dramatic and physical. Throw in the complex psychology of the character and you have a role that isn't for anyone. As mentioned earlier, Maria Callas is the benchmark interpretation and most subsequent recordings pay homage to her in one way or another.

Zachary Woolfe, NY Times: Doey Lüthi has costumed Radvanovsky in an Alexander McQueen-esque feathered gown, raven-like, with stringy, matted hair. (Did Medea swim all the way to Corinth?) Wild-eyed, dragging herself around the ground like a beached mermaid and pawing at fellow singers and props alike, she certainly telegraphs ferocity. But Radvanovsky and McVicar's conception of the role can sometimes seem so desperate to have that effect - to read as intense - that they stint Medea's stature, her authority beyond her hysteria. (She is, after all, not just a sorceress, but also a princess.)

Richard Sasanow, BroadwayWorld: In some ways, this is a one-woman show, because Radvanovsky leaves everyone else in the dust. True, there are other roles and first-rate performances by such singers as the clear-voiced tenor Polenzani as Giasone (that's Jason of the Argonauts) who has deserted her, the cool soprano Janai Brugger as Glauce (Giasone's new intended), the mellow mezzo Ekaterina Gubanova as Neris (Medea's confidante) and profound bass Michele Pertusi as Creonte (king of Corinth and father of Glauce).

To read more reviews, click here!

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