MÉDÉE at Opéra National de Paris

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by Opera Charm Team
March 10, 2024

LYRICAL TRAGEDY WITH FIVE ACTS
1693

Music | Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704)
Livret | Thomas Corneille

Conductor | William Christie
Director | David McVicar
Set and costume design | Bunny Christie
Lighting design | Paule Constable
Choreography | Lynne Page
Chorus master | Thibaut Lenaerts
Les Arts Florissants

Médée | Lea Desandre
Jason Reinoud | Van Mechelen
Créon | Laurent Naouri
Créuse, Un premier fantôme | Ana Vieira Leite *
Oronte | Gordon Bintner Nérine, Emmanuelle de Negri
Cléone Élodie Fonnard *
Arcas Lisandro Abadie *
L'Amour, Première captive | Julie Roset *
L'italienne, Deuxième captive | Mariasole Mainini *
Deux captives | Julie Wischniewski *, Juliette Perret *
Chœur à trois voix | Alice Gregorio *,
Bastien Rimondi *, Maud Gnidzag *
Deuxième Corinthien, un Argien captif,
Démon | Clément Debieuvre *
Premier Corinthien, un Argien, Jalousie,
Vengeance | Matthieu Walendzik *
Second fantôme | Virginie Thomas

BIOGRAPHY

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INTERVIEW

Possibly mythology’s most unfathomable character: Medea, the sorceress, betrayed by her husband Jason, takes revenge by offering the latter’s lover a poisoned dress and then killing her own children. Such a destiny, so often portrayed in the arts, could not but be embodied at the Opera. In 1693, Marc‑Antoine Charpentier premiered his only “tragédie lyrique”, based on a libretto by Thomas Corneille, at the Académie royale de Musique – forerunner of the Paris Opera – in the presence of Louis XIV. Three centuries after its creation, this baroque score of great orchestral wealth returns for the first time to the stage of the Paris Opera, under the baton of William Christie. Renowned for his exceptionally articulate interpretations, director David McVicar transposes the action to the Second World War, thus reinforcing the heroine’s tragic character.

CHARPENTIER’S SOLE TRAGEDIE LYRIQUE

On 4 December 1693, the Académie royale de musique (the precursor of the Paris Opera)
premiered Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Médée. Charpentier, renowned for his sacred music, had to
wait until he was 50 and until Lully had died before he could present his first – and only – true “tragédie
lyrique”. But the premiere was a resounding failure: too dark, too dramatic, too “Italian”… The work fell
into oblivion for almost 300 years, and is returning to our stage today for the first time.

BAROQUE REPERTOIRE EXPERTS

William Christie, a pioneer in the rediscovery of the Baroque repertoire, and more particularly the music
of Charpentier – his ensemble Les Arts Florissants takes its name from a work by the composer – needs
no introduction. He entrusts the title role to mezzo Lea Desandre, accompanied by Reinoud van Mechelen (Jason), Ana Vieira Leite (Créuse), Laurent Naouri (Créon) and Julie Roset (L’Amour).

A FOUNDING MYTH

Medea is undoubtedly one of the most famous characters in Greek mythology. Her fateful destiny, her intransigence and her complexity have not ceased to fascinate over the centuries: in opera, from Charpentier to Dusapin by way of Cherubini, and even Pasolini’s film with Maria Callas… Betrayed and humiliated by her husband Jason, for whom she abandoned everything, driven out by King Creon, who refuses to protect her, the magician Medea indulges in vengeance to the point of committing the most appalling of crimes: infanticide.

A COLOURFUL STAGING

Premiered in 2013 at English National Opera, the production directed by David McVicar combines
Baroque references – the palace in which the action is set – with references to the Second World War – Oronte is a member of the Royal Air Force and Jason is in the Navy – and also to cabaret for the entertainment. A transposition that in no way prevents the supernatural from appearing in the infernal or magical scenes.

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Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner comes from a music-loving family. Her first encounter with the opera universe was at the tender age of six. The grandeur of the stage productions and costumes, the backstage chatter, and last, but definitely not least, the music left her in awe, beginning with Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The overall feeling that opera awakens in anyone who gets a glimpse into this part of artistic eternity, that each and every day passes the test of time, was what drew her to stay and be a part of this world. The Opera House of Brașov became her second home, and the people who worked there were her second family.

Since then, Alice has devoted her spare time to maximising her musical knowledge through instrumental studies, studying both piano and violin for a short time. In the following years, her number one passion stepped out of the limelight and graciously gave way to Law Studies.
Since 2018 she has been studying Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Her passion for opera, even if it is no longer her top professional priority in terms of career, it has most definitely become her priority during her free time. Wanting to experience the best of both worlds and extend her musical horizons, she regularly attends opera performances throughout Romania and abroad.
With OPERA Charm Magazine, Alice aims to nurture her creative side to help it flourish and bloom and to discover, alongside the magazine’s readers, the fascinatingly complex world of opera.

Currently, she is an LL.M. in Business Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Oana Zamfir

Oana Zamfir is a second year MA student at the “George Enescu” National University of Arts, at the Department of Musicology.

She studied violin for 12 years at the “Stefan Luchian” High School of Art in Botosani, later focusing on the theoretical aspects of music. In 2019 she completed her bachelor studies in Musicology as a student of the National Academy of Music “Gheorghe Dima” in Cluj-Napoca. Her research during 2018-2019 brought to the forefront elements of the archaic ritual within works of composers who activated during the communist period, giving her the opportunity to start a research internship at the “Carl von Ossietzky” University in Germany. In this context, she recorded conversations with members of the Sophie Drinker Institute in Bremen, and had access to documents directly from the Myriam Marbé archive.

Since 2019 she has been a teacher of Music Education and Theoretical Music Studies, making full use of interactive methods in the musical training of students and working, at the same time, with the children’s choir founded in the first year of her activity.

Her interests include pursuing a degree in interior design in 2020.

Alexandru Suciu

Alexandru Suciu inherited his passion for art growing up in a family of several generations of musicians. He began his musical studies at the “Augustin Bena” School of Music in Cluj, where he studied piano and guitar. Even though his main study direction was philological, his passion for music prevailed. He began his academical journey at the Faculty of Letters of the “Babeș-Bolyai” University, studying Comparative literature and English. He continued by studying Opera Singing at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy. He also graduated the Musical Education section, followed by Artistic Directing at the Musical Performing Arts department.

His multidisciplinary education opened the doors towards research, which is seen both through his participation in national and international conferences and symposia, such as the Salzburg Easter School PhD-forum, organized by the Salzburg Universität or the Silesian Meeting of Young Scholars, organized by the Institute of English at the University of Silesia, as well as the collaboration with Opera Charm Magazine.

During his student years, he won several prizes, including the Grand Prize at the “Paul Constantinescu” National Musical Interpretation Competition, the Romanian Composers and Musicologists’ Union Prize at the same competition, the First Prize and the Schubert Prize at the “Ada Ulubeanu” Competition.

He further developed his artistic skills by specializing in courses and masterclasses held by personalities such as Vittorio Terranova, Giuseppe Sabbatini, Marian Pop, Ines Salazar, Riccardo Zanellato, Paolo Bosisio, Valentina Farcaș and Manuel Lange in contexts such as the Internationale Sommerakademie für Operngesang Deutschlandsberg, Corso Internazionale di Canto Lirico I.M.C. Licata or the Europäische Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst Montepulciano. Besides his activity on-stage, he currently teaches Opera Singing Didactics, and Pedagogical Practice within the Department for Teacher Education and Training at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy.

Cristina Fieraru

Cristina is a 24 year-old Romanian soprano & a student at the National University of Music Bucharest, where she pursues the MA program in Vocal Performance.

She made her debut in Pamina from “Die Zauberflöte” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at only 19 years old at the Bucharest National Opera House, as a member of the Ludovic Spiess Experimental Opera Studio. Over the years she made her debut in roles such as Contessa d’Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Mimì & Musetta (La Bohème), Alice Ford (Falstaff), Erste Dame (Die Zauberflöte) in her university’s opera productions.
Her passion and experience extends in the field of choral music, too.

She has been part of our dream team since the fall of 2021. For a good period of time she took care of OPERA Charm’s social media and took you on the monthly journey through the history of opera through our Legends rubric – and a few times through the Theaters around the World rubric.

Her little soul rubric – from 2021 to present – is definitely the Conductors of the Future, where, every month, she gives you the chance to meet a young star of the world of conducting and, of course, to find out what’s the most charming feature of opera in these artists’ views.

BIANCA L. NICA

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