by marc-antoine Charpentier
April 22-29, 2017 at the Elgin Theatre
“The perfect marriage of beauty and emotion in this Médée leave one with a sense of wonder.” – Stage Door
“fresh from its resounding success with Armide in Versailles, France, late last year, [Opera Atelier] has been invited back by Versailles director Laurent Brunner to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday with Medea.” – Toronto Star
This opera is the most profound example of French lyric theatre of the 17th century.
Medea, the powerful sorceress of Greek myth, betrays her country and her family in order to assist her lover Jason in his quest for the Golden Fleece. When she is no longer of use to him, Jason abandons her for a prestigious political marriage. In so doing, Jason has vastly underestimated Medea’s power, and she exacts a terrible vengeance that envelopes everyone closest to his heart.
Peggy Kriha Dye – Medea
Colin Ainsworth – Jason
Mireille Asselin – Créuse
Jesse Blumberg – Oronte
Christopher Enns – Jealousy, Soldier
Stephen Hegedus – Créon
Olivier Laquerre – Vengeance, Soldier, Arcas
Meghan Lindsay – Nérine
Kevin Skelton – Soldier
Karine White – Cléone
The full performance schedule for Medea is:
Medea is sung in French with English surtitles.
Medea, daughter of the King of Colchos, has betrayed her father and murdered her brother through her love for Jason, who had appeared in her country in search of the Golden Fleece. Through her powers as a sorceress, Medea enables Jason to overcome all tests and trials put in his path, steal the Golden Fleece and then escapes with him. Once back in his own country, in spite of his exploits, Jason is unable establish himself as rightful King. Medea avenges him by causing the death of Pelias, the usurper of Jason’s throne.
Medea, Jason, and their two sons escape from the wrath of Acaste, the son of Pelias. They take refuge in the palace of Creon, King of Corinth. Acaste, however, threatens to wage war upon Creon if he refuses to yield up the fugitives. Oronte the King of Argos arrives and offers Creon military assistance. In exchange, he demands the hand of Creon’s daughter, Creuse.
But Jason has fallen in love with Creuse himself and persuades Creon to choose him as son-in-law rather than Oronte. Despite the solemn oaths he has sworn to Medea, he is ready to abandon her. As a result, Creon banishes Medea, claiming that his subjects are afraid that her presence will bring misfortune upon the country.
Medea suspects that Jason is preparing to be unfaithful to her. By now, Medea is aware that Creon is only awaiting her departure so that he can celebrate the marriage of Jason and Creuse. Medea decides to wreak her vengeance.
First, she warns of Oronte of Creon’s double-dealing. Then, using her gifts as a sorceress, Medea drives Creon mad and he takes his own life. She then summons infernal powers and prepares a poison with which she impregnates a beautiful gown which Creuse has openly coveted. She makes a gift of this gown to Creuse, who appears in it in the same day. The gown then distills its poison and causes the princess in die in appalling suffering.
Even so, Medea’s anger is not assuaged. Her children, the living proof of Jason’s broken promises, are sacrificed to punish the man she holds responsible for all of her woes. Medea uses her powers as a sorceress to fly to safety, and Jason is left alone, surrounded by her destruction.
– Adapted from Jean-Marie Villégier’s original synopsis (Translated by John Sidgwick)