Medea (Pacini)

Medea is an opera in three acts composed by Giovanni Pacini to a libretto by Benedetto Castiglia. It premiered on 28 November 1843 at the Teatro Carolino in Palermo, conducted by the composer with Geltrude Bortolotti in the title role. The libretto is based on the plays Medea by Euripides and Médée by Pierre Corneille.[1]

Performance history

Following its premiere on 28 November 1843 at the Teatro Carolino on Palermo, Pacini revised the work for its performance at the Teatro Eretenio in Vicenza in 1845. It was further revised for its first performance at La Fenice in Venice on 9 March 1850. The final and definitive version premiered at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples on 26 February 1853. For two decades Pacini's Medea enjoyed considerable popularity in Italy, Russia and South America.[2] It then fell into obscurity, eclipsed by Bellini's Norma which has a similar story and Cherubini's Médée which in the 20th century became a vehicle for Maria Callas.

However, it has had some modern revivals, most notably the 1993 performance at the Teatro Comunale Chiabrera in Savona conducted by Richard Bonynge with Jolanta Omilian in the title role (a live recording was released on the Agora label), and the 2006 semi-staged production at the Teatro Antico in Taormina conducted by Tyrone Paterson with Simona Baldolini in the title role.


Role Voice type[3] Premiere cast
28 November 1843
Medea, a sorceress and Giasone's wifesopranoGeltrude Bortolotti
Glauce, daughter of Creonte, betrothed to Giasonesoprano
Cassandra, a priestesssoprano
Licisca, Medea's servantsoprano
GiasonetenorGiovanni Battista Pancani
Creonte, King of CorinthbassLuigi Valli
Calcante, a priestbass


Setting: Corinth in Ancient Greece

The heroic warrior Giasone plans to abandon his wife Medea to marry Glauce the daughter of Creonte the king of Corinth. In revenge Medea murders their two children and then commits suicide.

Notable arias and duets

  • "Odi sola in preda" - duet, Giasone and Medea, Act 1
  • "Ah dolci nel seno - Medea in the finale of Act 3 (added in the 1845 Vicenza revision)[4]



  1. Casaglia (2005)
  2. Amadeus (15 June 2006)
  3. According to Dizionario dell'opera
  4. Gelli (2007)


  • Amadeus La “Medea” di Pacini a Taormina, 15 June 2006. Online version accessed 25 October 2009 (in Italian).
  • Balthazar, S. L., Rose, Michael, and Kaufman, T., "Pacini, Giovanni", The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians 2nd Edition, 2001. ISBN 0-333-60800-3
  • Casaglia, Gherardo, "28 Novembre 1843" "9 Marzo 1850", "26 Febbraio 1853", Almanacco Amadeus, 2005. Accessed 25 October 2009
  • Pessina, Marino, Medea, in Gelli, Piero & Poletti, Filippo (ed.),Dizionario dell'Opera 2008, Milano, Baldini Castoldi Dalai, 2007, pp. 828-829, ISBN 978-88-6073-184-5 (in Italian).
  • Pacini, Giovanni, Le mie memorie artistiche, G. G. Guidi, 1865
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