GIASONE AND MEDEA WERE BOTH VERY BAD; OF MORALS THEY HAD NOT A WHIT! BUT THEIR SINGING WAS TUNEFUL AND GLORIOUS, SO DON'T MIND IF THEY SINNED JUST A BIT?!
"Gasone" (Jason) is an opera in 3 acts and a prologue with music by Francesco Cavalli and a libretto by Giacinto Cicognini. It was premiered at the Teatro San Cassiano during the Venetian Carnival season of 1649. 'Giasone' was the single most popular opera of the 17th century.
Pier Francesco Cavalli (1602-1676) was a student of Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1843) and as such worked closely with him in his operas, particularly 'The Coronation of Poppea'; in fact many historians say that much of the material in that opera was contibuted by Cavalli, and indeed 'Giasone' has the flavor of Monteverdi in its makeup. With Monteverdi, Cavalli ranks as the most significant exponent of early Venetian opera. Cavalli also wrote important ecclesiastical music, including the Requiem Mass for his own funeral.
The plot is loosely based on the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece, but the opera contains many comic elements too, as well as an abundance of satire.
The plot revolves around Jason's theft of the Golden Fleece, an undertaking in which he is helped by his lover, the Queen of Corinth (a sorceress) also called Medea. Jason and Medea are totally ruthless and incredibly immoral having conceived ,under the cover of darkness without having seen each other,twins. Mocked by Hercules (an Argonaut) for his (Jasons) effeminacy,Jason is also derided by Besso, the captain of his own guard, who comes across Jason and Medea sleeping nude in the open, sarcastically declares that Jason has :'the ram on his shoulders and the cow in his arms'. (The opera is filled with little comments like this o from various characters, usually at Jason's expense.) Isifil, Jason's deserted wife comes across as the one tragic character in this opera. However,thru a set of circumstances involving many twists and turns in the plot,Jason returns to his wife in the end, having been deserted by Medea, who returns to her husband (Aegeus).
"Giasone" is a good example of mid-century Venetian Opera- a powerful brew of the spectacular, the wickedly, and the sometimes deliciously humorous and touchingly pathetic. Rene Jacobs has done a marvelous job pulling this lengthy (3h53'56") opera together, but it's Cavalli's delightful music, along with a simply FABULOUS cast that keeps it going. To name just a few of them (there are 15 in all)who have the larger parts: Michael Chance (Jason) countertenor; Gloria Banditelli (Medea) Mezzo; and Catherine DuBosc (Isifile) soprano; Harry van der Kamp (Ercole)bass; Michael Schopper (Besso)bass ; Bernard Deletre (Oreste)tenor ; Dominique Visse (Delfa)countertenor; and Guy de May (Egeo)tenor. Experienced all; vocally and dramatically excellent! I was mesmerized by this recording; it is marvelously entertaining!
Liner notes and text included in French, Italian, English and German.