Performance material to this work is available on hire.
Medea – Speaking part
Jason – Speaking part
Die Hofmeisterin – Speaking part
Älterer Knabe –Speaking part
Jüngerer Knabe – Speaking part
Gefolge –Speaking parts
2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, 2 Bassoons, 2 Horns, 2 Violins, 2 Violas, Basses
Stage Music: 2 Oboes, 2 Horns, Bassoon
As typical for works of the melodrama genre, the libretto of Gotter’s Medea reduces scenic stage action in favor of the inner drama. Gotter traces the Medea myth, with particular focus on the tragedies of Euripides and Seneca, picking up the plot at a later time: Medea has already been exiled from Corinth. Having left the city without her children, she returns one more time. All other parts of the Medea myth, the happenings in Colchis, Iolvus, and Corinth, are treated as preceding events, which the audience is assumed to be familiar with.
Medea thus returns one last time to Corinth: Following the overture, the D-major middle section of which announces Medea’s arrival like that of a queen, she descends from her flying, dragon-drawn chariot. Chariots soaring among the clouds are often depicted in paintings of Medea and have been part of the iconographic tradition linked to the myth since Andrea Schiavone. Before even having uttered her first sentence, Medea’s supernatural powers are clearly symbolized with musical and scenic means. She then proceeds with a soliloquy revealing her dilemma: Finding herself torn between bittersweet memories of a happiness that once was and the wish to unleash her revenge upon Jason for having betrayed their love. After having prayed to Juno, she witnesses the wedding march of Jason and Creusa across the stage, hiding herself behind a pillar. Her fantasies of revenge are fanned, giving rise to thoughts of killing her children. This only deepens her dilemma, especially as she sees her children and the housekeeper in the flesh on the way to the temple of Juno. Medea now finds herself alternating between motherly love and her desire for revenge. Having searched in vain for an alternative, she decides to murder her children after all. Calling upon Hecate, the goddess of doorways and crossroads – including those separating the world of the living from that of the dead – Medea evokes a heavy thunderstorm and exits the stage. While the orchestra plays a storm symphony, he murders her children backstage. She then returns to the stage out of breath, numb, pale, and with torn-up hair (as the libretto states) and calls upon the Erinyes to complete her act of revenge. Jason is brought to Medea, she shows him the bodies and he kills himself.