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A Rare Masterpiece- Sondra Radvanovsky Stars in the Met's 'Medea'

Star Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky opens the new season at the Metropolitan Opera 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. 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. Performances start September 27, 2022 at 6:00pm, so be sure to get your tickets to this much anticipated event.

Hear an excerpt of Sondra Radvanovsky performing in this magnificent opera in the video below.



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.


The composer, Luigi Cherubini, (1760–1842) was an Italian-born composer who lived most of his adult life in Paris. He skillfully navigated the radically changing tastes in music and politics in those years and in his day, was greatly admired by Haydn, Beethoven, Rossini, and Chopin. François-Benoît Hoffman (1760–1828), a playwright who later gained fame as a journalist covering topics ranging from music to medicine, provided the opera’s original French libretto. Bolognese poet, librettist, and early film director Carlo Zangarini (1874–1943) provided the Italian translation.


The opera is set in the Greek city of Corinth, a wealthy and sophisticated locale already ancient by the time of the events in the opera. Medea herself is a foreigner from Colchis, a land thought by Greeks to be wealthy but primitive and which was associated with overly empowered women.


Beyond its obvious dramatic power, the score of Medea shows Cherubini’s abilities in vocal, choral, and instrumental writing. The overture demonstrates the orchestral mastery that was so admired by Beethoven, and the vocal writing is magnificent for the entire cast in both ensembles and solos. It is the lead role, of course, that reigns supreme—from her confrontation aria with Giasone in Act I and their duet at the end of that act to her poignant moment of pity for her children in Act III and her final scene of unalloyed fury.

Watch the Metropolitan Opera's official video trailer below.



Performances start September 27, 2022 at 6:00pm. Click the button below to buy tickets.




ACT I Ancient Corinth. Outside Creonte’s palace on the day before her wedding, Glauce, princess of Corinth, is preparing for her wedding to the hero Giasone. Yet on a day when she should be filled with joy, her overarching emotion is that of fear: For years, Giasone has been in a relationship with the sorceress Medea, the mother of his children. Glauce knows that Medea and Giasone have a long and complicated history—the sorceress used her magic to help him steal the treasure known as the Golden Fleece, murdered her own brother and Giasone’s uncle in her efforts to help him regain his throne, and ultimately accompanied him into exile in Corinth. Aware of this past, Glauce worries that Medea, who is still in love with Giasone, may do something to stop the wedding. Giasone promises Glauce that he no longer has any interest in Medea, and preparations for the wedding feast begin. The celebrations are interrupted when Medea appears and demands that Giasone return to her. Giasone rejects Medea’s pleas, saying that he has chosen Glauce. Medea, hurt and enraged, curses Giasone, calling on the gods of Olympus to help her take revenge.

ACT II Inside the palace, Medea is still burning with fury over Giasone’s betrayal. Concerned by Medea’s obvious distress, Neris suggests that she leave Corinth. King Creonte arrives, and he, too, asks Medea to leave the city. Medea pleads with Creonte to be allowed just one more day with her children. When Creonte agrees, she seems to calm down, and she even orders Neris to deliver a gown and crown as presents to the bride-to-be. As the wedding procession passes by, however, Medea expresses cruel wishes for the newlyweds.

ACT III Between the palace and the temple, Medea greets her two children as a dark storm appears in the sky. Suddenly, cries of lamentation issue from the palace: Medea’s presents were soaked in poison, and Glauce has died as a result. As an outraged crowd assembles, Medea, her children, and Neris escape and hide in a nearby temple. When Medea and Neris finally emerge from the temple, the sorceress is holding a bloody knife. Thinking only of hurting Giasone as much as possible, she has murdered her own sons. Giasone, realizing what has happened, collapses in grief. Medea delivers a final curse and sets the temple on fire. Thunder roars and lightning flashes through the sky as the terrified crowd flees the blazing temple.


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