The Medea Krater, Lucanian Red Figure, ca. 400 BC. Cleveland Museum of Art
Midi (Medea) is a native singer in the bar of a hotel/brothel in a city in the French Antilles, c. 1930. She is also a sorceress, a descendant of the Sun himself, loved and feared on the island. She lives with a dubious American "businessman," Jaz, who cheats on her and beats her. She could destroy him with her magic, but, loving him, she is helpless. They have two children.
In a prelude, Midi dances with her familiar spirits. In Act I, set in the hotel bar, Midi sings about herself as a Sun-creature, the rain, and Jaz. Jaz appears outside with his new lover, Claire, the Governor's daughter, whom he has promised to marry. They argue. Midi sings a mythic song about false lovers. Claire sends Jaz in to break with Midi. He hasn't the courage. Claire takes charge, leaving Midi in misery.
In Act II, set in Midi's ancestral house the next morning, she awakens in total devastation and confusion. She goes to the corner of the room where she has set up an altar to her gods, prays, and performs a ritual. Meanwhile Jaz enters with a suitcase to collect his belongings...as well as some of hers. He has brought Claire's old nurse along to help him take the children. Her religious observances completed, Midi confronts Jaz. Overcome with her old feelings for him, she seduces him. Infuriated by his loss of power, he beats and rapes her. She reaches for a coutelas to kill or mutilate him, but he runs away. She leaves the room with the weapon to kill their children. She reemerges covered in blood. Claire arrives and taunts her. In response, she uses magic to set fire to Claire. Through these terrible acts she takes full possession of her divinity.
Act III, scene 1 is set in a courtroom in the city. Midi is tried for the murder of her children. All is set against her, but she secures her acquital by magic. In scene 2, set on an airstrip by the beach, she is ready to fly off on a biplane. The people urge her to stay, so they can continue to enjoy her music. Jaz tries to shoot her. The crowd overpowers him. Midi flies away towards the sun.
The first act was performed at the National Opera Center of Opera America in New York City in October, 2016, in a workshop organized by American Opera Projects.
Vocal Score, Act I
Three arias from Act I