Thursday, 27 February 2020

Medea (Cherubini) in Berlin Staatsoper 2020-02-21

2020-02-21 Medea (Cherubini), Staatsoper (Berlin)

MÉDÉE = Sonya Yoncheva
JASON = Francesco Demuro
CRÉON = Iain Paterson
DIRCÉ = Slávka Zámečníková
NÉRIS = Marina Prudenskaya

Oksana Lyniv, conductor

DIRECTOR Andrea Breth
SET DESIGN Martin Zehetgruber
LIGHT Olaf Freese

When I came into the famous Staatsoper I suddenly realised that this was not only Medea in French but also with French dialogue. So this was not really the whole opera MEDEA but a inferior Medée. The cast was wonderful. The set design was ugly. The Regie was not true to the music or dialogue, it was on sometimes but then terribly off.

Oksana Lynov conducted Staatskapelle. Already in Ouverture I heard something was not right. It was not the ouveture that I had listened to when listening to Maria Callas studio and live recordings of Cherubini's opera Medea.

Then the opera started with Dircé's supporters holding her arms in an torturous grip while singing why is Dircé not happy with her coming marriage to Jason. Serena Sáenz had a beautiful soprano voice and I was thinking this Medée might just be good even if the Regie went against the happenings on the stage. Aytaj Shikhalizada was a mezzo soprano but her voice was not so pleasant to the ear. It was no doubt a large voice but it was fuzzy and it was not together. Then our Dircé sang.  Slávka Zámečníková has a wonderful soprano voice and it was a joy to hear her aria. Unfortunately the regie was not on her side.

Then came the first French dialogue. The Staatsopernchor sang well. This is Medea, a Greek tragedy. But the set design is a just dull, white, ware house dump. No king, just a greedy man who wants all that Jason have robbed/bought with his wife Medea. So how to get rich, marry my daughter to Jason of the Golden Fleece etc. And the Regie even have Dircé who does not care for Jason or his children, when in original opera it is Glauce (Italian name for Dircé) who asks her father to spare the children of Jason. But we have the stupid French dialogue where we could have had great singing.

Jason is already cheating on Dircé with one of her supporters (the mezzo). He shows little care of his sons on stage. Then we have Francesco Demuro singing Jasons aria where he is showing Dircé why he left Medea, his cruel wife. When Creon, Dircé's father, sings he is dignified, in dialogue less so. Iain Paterson was singing Creon well. Finally Medea arrives, unfortunately dialogue followes. Creon and Dircé sang in outrage. Creon tries to hinder Direé to have her say (Regie idea). Not a great family life.

Before Medea can sing, we have to suffer more dialogue. Then Sonya Yoncheva can sing Medea's aria. Before the duet between Medea and Jason, more dialogue. And then the fire can burn in this fiery duet. Jason in this production does not love Dircé but he is really still into Medea. Hates her but needs to touch her.

So much great music was never played and sung because of French dialogue.... But the singing when allowed was great so that one could believe this was Medea.

Medea was still a real Medea. But her entrance could have been great.

Act 2/3

I cannot go on. Other than say I got half an opera for the prize of a whole one. Sonya Yoncheva was dressed and acted as Medea and sang like a goddess. The whole cast was wonderful but the choice of gutting the opera with French dialogue, ugly set design and a regie that wanted to tell another story.

Neris aria was wonderfully sung by Marina Prudenskaya.

The natural beauty of this opera was destroyed by the dialogue, only when there was no dialogue only music was the opera really alive. Yet, when the opera was over, we felt a high but it was really only because of Sonya Yoncheva.

But I missed so much music and singing. Youtube with the whole Medea in Italian with Caballé and Carreras
"The problem, to paraphrase that same booklet note, is this: how to get an international cast of singers to make sense of the tirades of classical French verse that fill out the gaps between musical numbers. In the later 19th century, and when Maria Callas gave the work a boost in the mid-20th century, the answer was to perform it with inauthentic recitatives."

 I love the inauthentic recitatives because that gives Medea life.

For reviews from my travels, see

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