Lise Davidsen’s Powerful Voice Impresses in the Wexford Festival Opera’s Medea



Wexford Festival Opera 2017 [3] – Cherubini, Medea: Wexford Festival Orchestra and Chorus / Stephen Barlow (conductor), National Opera House, Wexford, 28.10.2017. (JMI)


Medea (c) Wexford Festival Opera

Medea – Lise Davidsen
Jason – Sergey Romanovskiy
Neris – Raffaella Lupinacci
Glauce – Ruth Iniesta
King Creon – Adam Lau
Captain – Thomas D. Hopkinson

Director – Fiona Shaw
Sets and Costumes – Annmarie Woods
Lighting – DM Wood

My stay in Wexford came to an end with Luigi Cherubini’s Medea, done in the Italian version, which had opened this year’s Wexford Festival Opera. It was a rather confusing production overall, with a musical direction that fell below my expectations and a somewhat uneven singing.

Fiona Shaw’s new staging brings the action up to current times. In works drawn from Greek myths, temporal location is not usually important since myths are timeless. But it doesn’t work that way in the case of Medea: it is much harder today to accept the actions and reactions of the protagonist.

In Act I Glauce and her friends are in a gym celebrating her upcoming wedding to Jason. The next two acts take place in Medea’s house which has a kind of island at the back where her deceased brother, whom she killed, apparently lies. Curiously, she has three children by Jason, not the usual two, although only two die. The stage direction is generally good, especially in the strange first act in the gym.

Stephen Barlow led the orchestra with a sure hand, but his reading lacked intensity and drama and as a result was often flat. Both the orchestra and the chorus were correct.

The character of Medea does not leave the stage after she appears about halfway through Act I. It is a truly demanding part that requires a dramatic soprano with a very wide voice. The presence of Lise Davidsen in the role had raised expectations: in her short artistic career she has attracted quite a bit of attention from opera lovers. In fact, she will debut next month at the Vienna Staatsoper as the lead in Ariadne auf Naxos. She is a powerful soprano with an impressive voice who also knows how to act. Seldom does one have the opportunity to hear a voice with these characteristics. She was a convincing Medea, although I missed more vulnerability in her performance.

Jason was played by tenor Sergey Romanovskiy who did well, although his voice is a bit lighter than what is desirable in this character. Obviously, in the duets with Medea he was obscured by the power of Ms Davidsen.

Mezzo-soprano Raffaella Lupinacci as Neris made a good impression: she sings with gusto and has an attractive voice. Soprano Ruth Iniesta sang the role of Glauce, Jason’s new love, and she was also good, with an appealing voice and plenty of expressiveness. Bass Adam Lau was more modest as King Creon.

José M. Irurzun

For more about Wexford Festival Opera click here.

Print Friendly


Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews


Season Previews

  • NEW! The Piccadilly Chamber Music Series in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera and More in Buenos Aires in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Gloucester Choral Society’s Hubert Parry’s Centenary Celebrations in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Spend a Penny for Grange Park Opera’s Lavatorium Rotundum __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 Lucerne Summer Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder’s Forthcoming Schubert Song Series in Leeds and Sheffield __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Ballet’s 2017 – 2018 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Contemporary Music from Manchester’s Psappha in 2017-18 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! I Musicanti’s Alexandra and the Russians at St Johns Smith Square in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov’s Return to London in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! St John’s Smith Square announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Pierre Boulez Saal’s 2017/18 Season in Berlin __________________________________
  • UPDATED! The Glyndebourne Opera Cup and Glyndebourne in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Opera’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House Announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

  • UPDATED! SOME OF OUR REVIEWERS CHOOSE THEIR ‘BEST OF 2017’ __________________________________
  • NEW! Dénes Várjon Talks to Sebastian Smallshaw About Budapest’s __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM – DMITRI HVOROSTOVSKY (1962-2017) __________________________________
  • NEW! Ann Murray’s Masterclass at the V&A Part of Opera: Passion, Power and Politics __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Carly Paoli is ‘Singing My Dreams’ at the Cadogan Hall in February 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! A Composer Speaks Up for the Environment: An Interview with Margaret Brouwer __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Russian Ballet Icons Gala at the London Coliseum on 25 February __________________________________
  • NEW! Twelve Years of Celebrating Malcolm Arnold in Northampton __________________________________
  • NEW! What is the Critic’s Job? A Review of A. O. Scott’s Recent Book __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival in Yorkshire Lifts the Lid Off an English Treasury __________________________________
  • NEW! A FULLY STAGED PILGRIM’S PROGRESS IN ORLEANS, MA __________________________________
  • NEW! JIŘÍ BĔLOHLÁVEK (1946-2017) AND THE CZECH CONDUCTING LEGACY __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H