Cherubini’s Médée is a French opéra comique (i.e. with spoken dialogue) which premiered in March 1797. It’s based on Euripides by way of Corneille whose Médée of 1635 was written, as one might expect, in alexandrines. So its roots, and the work itself, are very much in the French classical tradition. The complication is that the work is much better known in its Italian version with sung recitatives (not authorised by Cherubini) and has developed as a “show off” vehicle for star sopranos; notably Maria Callas and, more recently, Sondra Radvanovsky. Along the way it’s lost a lot of its classicism and become almost verismo like. So I was intrigued to see how much Guillermo Silva-Marin, in presenting the work “in concert” at the St. Lawrence Centre, would try, and how much he would succeed, in reclaiming the Cherubini of a Paris tipping from revolution to Bonaparte.
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The nightingale flies from its gilded cage
Florence: The Lady with the Lamp, music by Timothy Sullivan, libretto by Anne Mcpherson, premiered at the Elora Festival in 1992 and n 1995 was the first Canadian work performed by VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert. Yesterday afternoon they presented it again at the St. Lawrence Centre; staged and with orchestra.
It’s an interesting piece. Some of it I liked a lot and some not so much. The orchestral writing is excellent; colourful and atmospheric with some jazz influences. I quite often found myself drifting off into listening to the orchestra when perhaps I should have paid more attention to the words, especially as there were no surtitles. The vocal writing is less interesting but it had its moments especially in some of the ensembles. It’s the old dilemma of whether or not to prioritise the comprehensibility of the words over strictly musical values. Continue reading