NEW YORK – The Metropolitan Opera will open its new season on Sept. 27 with a lavish production of “Medea,” the signature role of Maria Callas, as the world begins a year-long celebration of the centennial of the incandescent Greek-American diva who transformed opera. Callas was born on December 2, 1923 and celebrations of her career are expected to last throughout the end of next year.
“Medea” is a co-production of the Metropolitan Opera, the Greek National Opera, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. It will be re-staged in full next year in Athens.
Prior to the actual opening on Sept. 27, the Met will hold several events to promote it. Next Monday night, Sept. 19, the General Manager of the Met, Peter Gelb, will moderate a conversation and performance at the Guggenheim Museum featuring the creative team and cast members
The following night there will be a screening of the film “Medea” starring Maria Callas and directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini at the Walter Read Theater, 165 West 65th St. that will be followed by a panel discussion of the life and career of Maria Callas. The panel will be moderated by the Met Opera dramaturg Paul Cremo and will feature Nicholas Gage, who wrote “Greek Fire,” the acclaimed book about Callas and Aristotle Onassis. “Greek Fire illuminates not only its subjects but the craft of biography as well,” wrote the Washington Post about the book.
Unlike the opera, Pasolini’s film of the famous Euripides drama shifts the tragedy away from Medea’s betrayal by Jason and her bloody revenge to the loss of her mystical homeland of Colchis and features a glorious performance by Callas in her only starring film role.
The starring role in the Met’s opera production will be sung by Sondra Radvonvosky, whose voice and acting style has been compared to Maria Callas.
The Cherubini opera premiered in Paris in 1797 but was long forgotten until Callas revived it in 1953.
In this fiery retelling of the Greek myth, the sorceress Medea embodies the archetype of the woman betrayed by a powerful men and shunned by society. She embraces her rage, in the end murdering her two children as a supreme act of vengeance against her faithless lover Jason, their father.