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Médée (Medea)
Marc-Antoine Charpentier
Opera Atelier production, November 2002
with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Artists of Atelier Ballet
Elgin Theatre, Toronto

Charpentier’s tragédie en musique, Médée, premiered for Louis XIV’s Académie Royale de Musique in 1693. The action centres on the Princess Medea, who not only betrays her country and murders her brother, but also assists her lover Jason in his successful attempt to steal the Golden Fleece. Medea, Jason and their children claim sanctuary from Creon, King of Corinth. Jason falls in love with Creon’s daughter, Creusa. Medea murders Creusa by means of a poisoned dress and destroys the children she has had by Jason in order to exact revenge on her faithless partner.

Opera Atelier’s production of Médée marked the Canadian premiere of Charpentier’s masterwork and was conducted by Hervé Niquet.

Gerard Gauci: Matching the mammoth emotional scale of this story, the sets for Médée consisted of a series of giant painted backdrops and scrims. A scrim is a backdrop painted on a screen-like fabric that can remain opaque when lit from the front and disappear when lit from behind. In classic 17th-century style the designs depict: a triumphal arch surrounded by tapestries; a columned palace interior; a formal French garden.