Simone Mayr: Medea in Corinto

Mayr cover of critical edition

Edited by Paolo A. Rossini

Melodramma tragico  
Libretto: Giuseppe Felice Romani (in Italian)
World premiere: 28.11.1813, Naples

“With Medea in Corinto, Giovanni Simone Mayr – probably the most important Italian opera composer between Mozart and Rossini – achieved one of his greatest successes.”
—Bayerische Staatsoper


To help Jason win the golden fleece, Medea has killed her brother and Jason’s uncle Pelias. The latter’s son, Acastus, now marches towards Corinth, where Medea and Jason have taken refuge after their wedding. The Corinthian king Creon wants his daughter Creusa to marry Jason, although he is married to Medea and Creusa is betrothed to Aegeus, king of Athens. Creusa learns that Medea is to be banished, who tries in vain to convince Jason – who has returned victorious – not to leave her. Aegeus wants to prevent the marriage of his fiancée Creusa to Jason at any cost. To this end, he allies himself with Medea and has Creusa kidnapped during the wedding ceremony. Creusa dies from a robe poisoned by Medea, apparently given as a token of her repentance. As Creon and Jason mourn the death of Creusa, Aegeus arrives with his entourage. He comes to Medea’s defense, who before managing to escape confesses to having killed her children in revenge.


Mayr’s opera Medea in Corinto was particularly successful in Naples. It the composer’s trademark throughout Europe. Mayr made his Medea a counterpart and answer of sorts to Luigi Cherubini’s French rescue opera Médée (1797). Medea may certainly be considered as Mayr’s principal work, as Calvi, Cambiasi, and Donizetto recognized and emphasized early on. "Maestro pregiatissimo, [...] Io non vivo per l'interesse ma per l'onore, e l'accerto che se potessi fare una Medea sarei contento a morir dopo." – "Most honored maestro [...] I live not for profit but for fame, and rest assured that if I succeeded in creating a Medea, I would be happy to die afterwards."

Critical Edition

  • The critical edition reconstructs the first draft, the score of which had been fragmented for later versions – Bergamo 1821, Milan 1823, 1829.
  • Comparison between the different autograph manuscripts – in some cases no fewer than three different versions of a single number, all from the author’s hand – and the printed libretti has made it possible to trace the original destination of each version.
  • Of particular importance is Mayr’s Bergamo version: only six of 14 numbers remain unchanged. The others were composed anew or fundamentally revised.

Recommendations for concert

Sinfonia - - timp.perc - str

1st Act No. 3 Exit of Medea Comé? Sen riede e il passo
S.Chr - – - str

1st Act No. 4 Duet Medea, Giasone Cedi al destin
S.T - - - str
1st Act No. 4 Aria Egeo Io ti lasciai piangendo
T - - - str

2nd Act No. 13 Aria Medea Ah! Che tento?
S - - - str