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Cherubini: Medea / Rescigno, Zaccaria, Carron, Callas, Vickers, Berganza, Raskin, Et Al

Release Date: 11/25/2008 
Label:  Myto Records   Catalog #: 164   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Luigi Cherubini
Performer:  Elizabeth CarronMary MacKenzieJon VickersJudith Raskin,   ... 
Conductor:  Nicola Rescigno
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dallas Civic Opera ChorusDallas Civic Opera Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

CHERUBINI Medea Nicola Rescigno, cond; Maria Callas ( Medea ); Jon Vickers ( Giasone ); Teresa Berganza ( Neris ); Nicola Zaccaria ( Creonte ); Elizabeth Corron ( Glace ); Judith Raskin ( First Maid ); Mary McKenzie ( Second Read more Maid ); Dallas Op O & Ch MYTO 164, mono (79:54)

There are two ways you can perform Medea: the way Cherubini wrote it, or the way Callas performed it. They are not really the same opera, and the changes occurred as early as 1953 when the soprano invited conductor Leonard Bernstein to lead a performance of the opera with her at La Scala. Bernstein accepted but had no knowledge of the score. Reading it on the plane going from New York to Milan, he instinctively felt that certain cuts and rearrangements would make the story much more cogent and dramatic. When he arrived, he learned that Callas had the exact same thoughts.

I have heard the opera performed both ways, and no matter how great the soprano singing Medea, the opera simply does not make the same impact in the original version. Of course, there are several recordings of Callas Medea s out there, and I’m sure that each listener who likes her interpretation has his or her favorite. This one is mine, for two reasons: (1) it was the first time that she performed the opera opposite Jon Vickers’s Jason, and (2) the supporting cast is much stronger than in competing versions—even down to Judith Raskin singing the role of the First Maid.

The sound is no better or worse than most of Callas’s live Medea s. You can make out the voices and the words clearly, and Nicola Rescigno’s conducting is, to my ears, even better that that of Bernstein, Gui, or Serafin. This latest incarnation, as usual, contains no libretto, but if you know the story of Medea you can pretty much follow the action without a problem. Callas and Vickers strike sparks that no other operatic duo ever did, and it’s a real shame that he never sang any other roles with her. How I wish that he had been chosen to sing Don José on her studio recording of Carmen!

For a snapshot of a great artist in her prime, an artist Vickers later said was “almost masochistic in her overriding desire to present as truthful and dramatic a character on stage as possible,” you can’t go wrong with this. It is one of those roles that defined Callas as an artist and made her admired the world over for her professional intensity and integrity.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

Medea by Luigi Cherubini
Performer:  Elizabeth Carron (Soprano), Mary MacKenzie (Mezzo Soprano), Jon Vickers (Tenor),
Judith Raskin (Soprano), Peter Binder (Baritone), Nicola Zaccaria (Bass),
Maria Callas (Soprano), Teresa Berganza (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Nicola Rescigno
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dallas Civic Opera Chorus,  Dallas Civic Opera Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797; France 

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