La toison d'or (opera)

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La toison d'or (The Golden Fleece) is a French-language opera in three acts by the composer Johann Christoph Vogel, first performed at the Académie Royale de Musique (the Paris Opera) on 5 September 1786. The libretto, by Philippe Desriaux, is based on the legend of Jason and the Golden Fleece.

La toison d'or was the first of Vogel's two operas. The second, Démophon, premiered posthumously in 1789.

Roles[edit]

Cast Voice type Premiere
Médée (Medea) soprano Marie-Thérèse Davoux (called "Mlle Maillard")
Jason tenor/baritone François Lays
Hipsiphile (Hypsipyle) soprano Anne Chéron (née Cameroy, called "Mlle Dozon")
La Sibylle (the Sibyl) soprano
Calciope soprano Adelaïde Gavaudan (the younger)
Arcas basse-taille (bass-baritone) Moreau
Première suivante de la Sybille (first follower of the Sibyl) soprano
Seconde suivante de la Sybille (second follower of the Sibyl) soprano
Chorus:Young girls, Argonauts, warriors, sailors

Synopsis[edit]

Act 1[edit]

Scene:A plain outside the walls of Colchis.
Jason and his Argonauts have voyaged from Greece for Colchis in search of the Golden Fleece. Jason's wife Queen Hypsipyle has secretly followed him there. She arrives to hear a chorus celebrating Jason's triumph over fire-breathing bulls. They also congratulate Princess Medea of Colchis on her forthcoming marriage to Jason. The news shocks Hypsipyle. When Medea finds out Jason's deceit, she is furious and vows revenge on him. Jason and Hypsipyle are reconciled and decide to embark for Greece.

Act 2[edit]

Scene: A dark forest by the sea, on which the Argonauts' fleet is sailing.
Medea's sister, Calciope, begs her to forget Jason, but Medea uses her magic to summon a storm which wrecks the Argonauts' ships. Jason and Hypsipyle make it to the shore and confront Medea. Jason urges her to forgive and forget, but Medea stabs Hypsipyle to death before his very eyes.

Act 3[edit]

Scene:Walls surrounding the sacred forest in which the Golden Fleece is kept. Outside the walls, the Sybil's cave.
Still bent on revenge, Medea consults the Sybil in her cave. She plans to kill Jason but when she hears the Argonauts are in danger, she takes pity and rushes to his aid. Medea uses her magic powers to defeat the earth-born giants who are attacking the Argonauts. She also puts the dragon guarding the Golden Fleece to sleep, allowing Jason to steal it. Medea begs Jason to take her with him to Greece. When he refuses, she curses him and flies off in a chariot pulled by dragons.

Recording[edit]

  • La toison d'or Marie Kalinine (Médée), Jean-Sébastien Bou (Jason), Judith Van Wanroij (Hipsiphile), Choir of the Staatstheater Nürnberg, Le Concert Spirituel, conducted by Hervé Niquet (2 CDs, Glossa, 2013)

Sources[edit]

  • Booklet notes to the Niquet recording by Benoït Dratwicki, Marie Susplugas and Pierre Sérié.