Music: Medea & the Paddy Wagon

"I go now to the Styx, the sacred river!" sang the soprano, and flinging aside her dagger, collapsed on the stage. As the curtain fell, buxom Eileen Farrell hoisted herself to her feet, trudged back to her dressing room and sighed: "When I'm through this role, I'll be ready for the paddy wagon."

For Soprano Farrell and the San Francisco Opera, last week's opening-night performance of Luigi Cherubini's Medea was both trial and triumph. The title role is one of the most exhausting in all opera: Medea is on stage for 80 of the opera's 105 minutes, and during most of that...

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