The Greek National Opera Presents McVicar's MEDEA With Anna Pirozzi in April

Performances will take place at Stavros Niarchos Hall on April 25, 27, 30, May 2, 4, and 9. 

By: Feb. 28, 2023
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The Greek National Opera Presents McVicar's MEDEA With Anna Pirozzi in April

The Greek National Opera (GNO) presents the Greek premiere of Sir David McVicar's production of Cherubini's Medea, led by GNO's conductor Philippe Auguin. The opera will be performed as a centerpiece of GNO's centennial tribute to Maria Callas. Medea will feature the role and GNO debut of internationally acclaimed soprano Anna Pirozzi in the title role. This is the first co-production between the GNO, The Metropolitan Opera, Canadian Opera Company, and Lyric Opera of Chicago. Performances will take place at Stavros Niarchos Hall on April 25, 27, 30, May 2, 4, and 9.

Cherubini's Medea is a rarely performed opera, based on Euripedes' play of the same name. Initially performed with a French libretto, the text was later translated into Italian and the music re-set to dialogue by composer Franz Paul Lachner. This Italian version was popularized by Maria Callas in the 20th century, when she played Medea at the 1953 Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Festival. Callas famously performed the role at the GNO in 1961, at the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus. This was Callas' second appearance on the Epidaurus, following her performances as Norma in the summer of 1960.

This staging of Medea is presented as part of the GNO's Maria Callas centennial, a year-long celebration of the late singer's life and career. Artistic Director Giorgos Koumendakis explains:

"Medea is a carefully considered choice - an opera supremely connected to Greece not only because it is based on the ancient Euripidean tragedy, but also because the performance given by Maria Callas as part of the GNO production at Epidaurus in 1961 is regarded as a momentous landmark in contemporary Greek culture. And it is no accident that we have chosen to present this work in 2023, the year in which we will be celebrating the Maria Callas centennial - one hundred years since the greatest opera singer of all time was born."

Before coming to the GNO, David McVicar's production opened the 2022-23 Metropolitan Opera season and was described by The New York Times as "impressive and enjoyable." McVicar has previously created stagings for the world's most prominent opera houses and festivals, including the English National Opera, the Mariinsky Theatre, The Metropolitan Opera, the Salzburg Festival, La Scala, and the Vienna State Opera, among others. McVicar's Medea seeks inspiration from Directoire style and the French Revolution, tying the opera's action with the time period of its composition. With a minimal set centered around massive walls, doors, and barriers, the production emphasizes Medea's state as an outsider to the city of Corinth. McVicar's sets portray Corinth in disrepair, with deteriorating buildings that allude to the aristocratic downfall at the time of the opera's premiere. The set design, centered around walls, barriers, and doors, emphasizes Medea's exclusion, even excision, from Corinthian society. "I wanted the set to physically marginalize Medea," McVicar says, "just as Giasone marginalizes her." In Euripides's play, Medea has a female chorus supporting her and amplifying her voice and perspective, but Cherubini instead depicts Medea as an outsider, excluded from all aspects of Corinthian society. McVicar says that it is this isolation that catalyzes her rage and desire for revenge, and was the main inspiration for his design, which he developed while quarantining at his home in Scotland during the pandemic.

Regarding the collaboration with The Greek National Opera, Peter Gelb the General Director of The Metropolitan Opera notes:

"It has been our honor to work with the Greek National Opera on David McVicar's dramatic and striking staging of Cherubini's Medea, which opened here at the Metropolitan Opera house last fall... I know [it] will be a spectacular opening night in Athens on April 25."

Hailed by The New York Times as "a voice that knows no flaws, whatever the pressure, whatever the pitch," Anna Pirozzi makes both her GNO and role debut in the exceptionally demanding leading role of Medea. The cast also includes bass-baritone Yanni Yannissis as Creon, soprano Vassiliki Karayanni as Glauce, tenor Giorgio Berrugi as Jason, mezzo-soprano Nefeli Kotseli as Neris, bass Nikolas Douros as the Captain of the Guard, soprano Despoina Skarlatou as the First Maid, and mezzo-soprano Martha Sotiriou as the Second Maid.

Following Medea, the 2022-23 GNO season continues at the open air Odeon of Herodes Atticus with the premiere of a new production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly directed by the new artistic director of the Paris Chatelet Theatre Olivier Py, conducted by Vassilis Christopoulos from June 1-10.

Further events to celebrate the Callas centenary will be announced later this year.

About Medea

Luigi Cherubini
Apr 25, 27, 30 & May 2, 4, 9
Starts at: 7:30 p.m. (Sunday at 6:30 p.m.)
Stavros Niarchos Hall of the Greek National Opera - SNFCC
In co-production with The Metropolitan Opera, Canadian Opera Company, and Lyric Opera of Chicago

Conductor: Philippe Auguin
Director, sets: David McVicar
Revival director: Jonathon Loy
Associate set designer: Hannah Postlethwaite
Costumes: Doey Lüthi
Movement director: Jo Meredith
Lighting: Paule Constable
Lighting revival: TBA
Projection design: S. Katy Tucker
Chorus master: Agathangelos Georgakatos

Creon: Yanni Yannissis
Glauce: Vassiliki Karayanni
Jason: Giorgio Berrugi
Medea: Anna Pirozzi
Neris: Nefeli Kotseli
Captain of the Guard: Nikolas Douros
First maid: Despoina Skarlatou
Second maid: Martha Sotiriou

With the Orchestra and Chorus of the Greek National Opera

Tickets are available now from the GNO Box Office and online here.
Ticket prices: €15, €20, €35, €55, €60, €70, €80, €120
Students, children: €15
Limited visibility seats: €10

The Greek National Opera Presents McVicar's MEDEA With Anna Pirozzi in April


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