033A) Medea: The Greatest Opera You've Never Heard-and Its Met Premiere

This fall, the Metropolitan Opera presents its premiere of Luigi Cherubini’s Medea, featuring superstar Sondra Radvanovsky in the tour-de-force role that few dared approach since Maria Callas’s legendary performances. In this course, we explore the interplay of language and music that led Beethoven to call Cherubini the greatest living composer (besides himself) and “Europe’s foremost dramatic composer.” For opera-lovers planning to see the Met’s production (on stage or on-screen in HD), as well as for newcomers to opera, this course offers an essential background to understanding and appreciation of a long-neglected masterpiece.

Each hour-long class focuses on key arias and ensembles from the opera: We view videos of recent productions, with double (English and Italian) subtitles; and listen to audio recordings of landmark performances, while following along in the bilingual (Italian-English) libretto.

We explore how Cherubini’s masterpiece expresses the passions of its eponymous heroine—the sorceress of Greco-Roman mythology, whose ardent love turns to murderous vengeance. We focus on key arias and ensembles, with the aid of a bilingual (Italian-English) libretto, provided online by instructor Dionigia. This approach deepens appreciation of that interrelationship between music and language which is unique to opera, while also introducing and/or reinforcing basic skills in learning Italian. 

Music-lovers with little or no Italian: Non c’è problema! (No problem!) Dionigia finds—from her long experience in teaching and opera-going—that studying a foreign language through opera removes hesitation or insecurity; as one of her students remarked: “The learning process happens naturally as you enjoy great music and the fascinating art of opera!”

At the end of each one-hour class, and after a short break, students are invited to an optional session (at no extra cost), in which they can view the entire section of the opera discussed in class.

Trips to see the Met’s Medea premiere
Instructor Dionigia will host two optional class trips: to the Metropolitan Opera, for the Saturday matinée (October 22), and to a Live-in-HD screening (October 26: Regal Theater, North Brunswick). Tickets (sold separately) for these events may be purchased online—for the Live-in-HD screening (October 26), at:

https://experience.regmovies.com/select-tickets?sitecode=0705&site=0705&id=186479&lang=en-US , $27-$29.; and for the on-stage performance (October 22), at

https://www.metopera.org/smart-seat/?performanceNumber=16978#/  , from $55., or by phone, at 212-362-6000.

For assistance in purchasing tickets, and/or for seating close to the ticket-block near the instructor, students may contact Dionigia directly, before or immediately following the first class session.

All required texts and related materials (included in course-registration fee) will be supplied by the instructor; printed materials are also available, upon request.

Recommended: Langenscheidt Pocket Dictionary Italian: Italian-English/English-Italian

(ISBN: 3468981449 or 978-3468981449); 2-CD set, Cherubini: Medea Milano, 10/12/1953

(Warner Classics, 2017); for those with reading skills in Italian: Medea: Libretto integrale con schede informative

(ISBN 1088729991 or 978-1088729991)