In 431 B.C. the classic Greek tragedy Medea by Euripides premiered at the City Dionysia festival in Athens. It was based on the myth of Jason, the leader of the Argonauts who had rescued the Golden Fleece and had married Medea. In the opening scene of the play, Jason tells his wife that he is going to marry Glauce, the daughter of Creon, the King of Corinth. An enraged Medea begins to plot her revenge against her husband, first poisoning Glauce and Creon, and then slaying her own children.
Despite the fact that the plot of Medea was shocking to its audiences, the work has endured and spawned re-interpretations into various formats, including literature by Cicero, Ovid, Pindar, and Seneca; contemporary drama by Jean Anouilh, John Gardiner, Maxwell Anderson, and Robert Graves; classical music by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Darius Milhaud, Samuel Barber, and Mikis Theodorakis; films such as Jason and the Argonauts (1963) starring Nancy Kovack, Medea starring Maria Callas (1969), and A Dream of Passion (1978) starring Melina Mercouri; as well as ballets, paintings, television shows, Broadway plays, and works by rock and heavy metal bands.
Cherubini’s Medea Returns to Greece
Luigi Cherubini’s Medea, which opens the Festival of the Aegean on July 12, was premiered in Paris in 1797. Written originally in French, with a libretto by François-Benoît Hoffmann, it was premiered in the Italian language in 1809. The work was heard infrequently until the great Greek-American diva Maria Callas performed it in Florence, Italy, in 1953, with ensuing productions during the 1950s and 1960s at Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Dallas Opera, and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in London.
Among the other recent interpreters of the extremely demanding title role were Montserrat Caballé, Dame Gwyneth Jones, Leonie Rysanek, and Shirley Verrett. Dramatic soprano Eilana Lappalainen opens the 11th International Festival of the Aegean singing the role of Medea. Other key cast members are Konstantin Andreiev as Jasone, Vassilis Kostopoulos as Creonte, Lydia Zervanos as Glauce, Fotini Athanasaki as Neris, Marilena Striftobola as Prima Ancella, Jaina Elgueta as Seconda Ancella, and Jonathan Boudevin as Un capo della guardia. Dirk Schattner is the Stage Director, and Jens Huebner is the Set and Lighting Designer. The Pan-European Philharmonia, from Warsaw, Poland, is conducted by Peter Tiboris, who is also the Founder and General Director of the Festival of the Aegean.
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