Search - Luigi Cherubini, Leonard Bernstein, La Scala Theater Orchestra :: Cherubini: Medea

Cherubini: Medea
Luigi Cherubini, Leonard Bernstein, La Scala Theater Orchestra
Cherubini: Medea
Genre: Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (17) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #2


      
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CD Reviews

The Greatest Diva in one of her greatest roles
Paul A. Tassone | Glenwood, NSW , Australia | 02/20/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Maria Callas, the tigress of opera, remains the most fascinating figure in 20th Century opera. Her own life story was as tantalising and tragic as any of the heroines she protrayed. Among her most famous roles is that of the murderous Medea.The ultimate in evil opera heriones, Medea is not above murdering her own children and when brought to life by the unforgettable voice of Maria Callas she is a three dimensional, realistic woman.This legendary performance teams the diva with another legend, conductor Leonard Bernstein. Together they make Cherubini's long neglected masterpiece come to life. Add to this the tingle of live performance before the often voltile La Scala audience and you have a unique listening experience. This recording is highly recommended for those who love the diva and want to experience what it must have been like to be present at one of her remarkable performances."
Stupendous achievement, but not Cherubini
BDSinC | Calgary, Alberta, Canada | 02/15/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have loved Maria Callas in this opera all my life when I first discovered it as a child (that was the studio recording offered by EMI). This recording offers a real portrait of Medea as interpreted by Callas. I agree, the opera is seldom successfully given, or recorded, by other artists. Like everyone says, "Who can do it like her?"Well, no one can. However, the real to life presentation we get in this Medea, and most other recorded versions by Callas, or other singers, is NOT what Cherubini wrote. Cherubini's Medee was premiered in Paris March 13, 1797 and the opera has NO recitatives at all. It has pages and pages of spoken dialogue. Whole aspects of the story are missing in the Italian version (which had its origin in Germany in a German translation with accompanied recitatives written by a now-forgotten organist, Franz Lachner in 1850 when the craze was to have everything sound Wagnerian, and then edited in our century by Tito Serafin), such as the real reason Jason won't give her their children (another king, because of Medea's evil crimes has declared he will kill her children and wipe out her name, but the king of Corinth has offered to protect them). Even the texture of the opera is quite different. The Act II finally, when the chorus is singing of the wedding of Glauce (called Dirce in the original French) and Jason; Medea doesn't sing at all until the very last few lines, which are sung in this recording. All her outbursts, which do occur, are SPOKEN over the off stage chorus and orchestra, extremely dramatic, and more imposing than the sung outbursts one hears here. Though all the heavy exciting arias and ensembles that are heard in this recording do exist in the score, and are by Cherubini, none of those super charged animalistic recitatives that Callas brings to life so well exist at all. Credit must be given to Lachner for trying to stay true to the drama of the score, even if he killed the spirit of an opera comique. It is true that no singer shall remove the memory of Callas in this version of this role (even for those of us who know her only in recordings), however, this is NOT the only version of the score we should listen to. There is much to gain from hearing the original. One thing, Callas could never have done justice to the dialogue, for she simply didn't know how to make her speaking voice ring with dramatic truth like she was able to do with her singing voice. The dialogue in this opera is extremely heavy and long, but unlike people may think (where in Carmen, for example the entire dialogue is boring at times, even if informative) the dialogue of this opera is NOT boring, nor does it remove the forward motion of the drama. It is like singing enters only when the height of emotion is beyond the ability of the spoken word. I call this "Callas' Medea" and there is no comparision, no one will dethrone her in it. Buy it, it is great. Then take the time to hear what Cherubini really wrote, and be amazed again, but in quite a different way. One is not correct and the other wrong, they are both wonderful, but very different."
La Medea della Callas
Fabrizio Cigni | Riglione-Oratoio PISA, Pisa Italy | 04/07/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Maria Callas resuscitò Medea di Cherubini nel 1953, una prima volta al Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, su consiglio di Francesco Siciliani, suo grande sostenitore, e sotto la guida di Vittorio Gui, un bravo direttore con cui però la cantante non andava d'accordo sul piano musicale. La Scala era presente, e la volle per la stagione 1953-54. La prima recita ebbe luogo il 10 dicembre, ed è l'oggetto della presente registrazione. Forse non sono in molti a sapere che Leonard Bernstein non aveva ancora diretto un'opera italiana, e venne chiamato a dirigere Medea su suggerimento della stessa Callas, incuriosita dal talento del giovane americano (come lei) che aveva appena sentito dirigere musica sinfonica per radio! Il risultato della loro collaborazione fu clamoroso, anche perché la Callas, convincendo Bernstein delle sue idee interpretative di un'opera che la vedeva protagonista assoluta (e che lei sola conosceva profondamente come nessun altro), poté avere quello spazio e quella libertà di espressione, fraseggio e movimento che con direttori meno "moderni" talvolta le mancava: Cherubini può essere pesante e noioso per i nostri tempi, ma con la Callas non lo è mai. Interpretando Medea, la Callas, che proprio per questo ruolo sentì l'esigenza di avere un fisico più magro e scattante, riusciva a fondere e portare alla superficie ben tre 'letture' del personaggio: quella di Cherubini, quella di Seneca e quella di Euripide. Nessuno prima e dopo di lei ha saputo far questo, neanche nel teatro parlato. Né lei, forse, fu del tutto consapevole di quanto aveva fatto; non per questo era stupida, però. La sua Medea provocò molti dissensi nell'ambiente culturale italiano di quegli anni, e alcuni intellettuali (?), vedendola così agitata sul palcoscenico e sentendo la sua voce così sinistra e disperata, giudicarono il suo personaggio troppo poco "greco". Lei rispose che Medea non è greca, è l'unico personaggio non greco, bensì barbaro di questa tragedia: ed è vero. Questa registrazione offre la possibilità non solo di ascoltare un'opera eseguita mirabilmente (la voce della Callas nel 1953 può dirsi ancora al suo massimo, basta ascoltare la sua prima aria), ma anche quella di "vedere" un modo del tutto nuovo, e diverso dal solito, di interpretare col canto la musica, il teatro (il pubblico avvertì per la prima volta l'odio nella voce di un soprano) ... e forse anche qualcosa di più."