The Medium and The Telephone
An Evening of American Opera

7 pm – April 1, 2017
Twentieth-Century Center
536 N Broadway, Wichita

Free Admission
Limited Seating
For tickets, call 316.302.5165

About the Composer

Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti (1911–2007) wrote over twenty operas in his long and prolific career. His works have garnered both critical acclaim and popular support, twice winning the Pulitzer Prize for Music as well as the prestigious New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for best musical play. Menotti is considered by many to be the most important American opera composer, and is often called “the American Puccini.” Due to the huge success of The Medium (1946), Menotti received the first ever commission for a television opera from NBC, resulting in his well-known Amahl and the Night Visitors (1951). The Medium, a tragedy in two acts, was premiered on Broadway in 1947 alongside its lighter companion piece, The Telephone, also by Menotti. The double bill ran for 212 performances on Broadway in 1947. Still frequently performed together, these beloved works are among the most frequently performed operas in the United States today.

The Medium

Composition Date: 1946

Runtime: Approx. 1 hour

Cast:

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Monica Karina Brazas
Toby Michael Adamyk
Madame Flora “Baba” Alana Sealy
Mrs. Gobineau Emily Sternfeld-Dunn
Mr. Gobineau Joel Rogier
Mrs. Nolan Krystin Skidmore

Production:

Stage Director Jen Stephenson
Musical Director J. Bradley Baker

Plot Summary:

The Medium begins in the home of Madame Flora, a gypsy scam artist who holds phony séances to prey on the emotions of the bereaved in order to make her living. Madame Flora, called “Baba” by her kindhearted daughter Monica, enters to find Monica playing dress up with Toby, a mute street boy. Baba angrily barks orders to Monica and Toby, and they prepare the room for the séance.

Mr. and Mrs. Gobineau, two regular customers, enter with Mrs. Nolan, a newcomer. The four adults begin the séance, while Monica and Toby hide to assist with the scam. Monica begins to sing from her hiding place, leading the Gobineaus and Mrs. Nolan believe that they are speaking with their deceased children. Suddenly, Baba feels a hand on her; she stops the proceedings and demands to know who has touched her. No one claims to have laid a hand on her. While the customers marvel to each other that such encounters happen quite frequently to Baba, Baba flies into a rage. She turns on Toby, believing that he must have touched her, but he maintains his innocence.

Unnerved by the experience, she fears that her scam has gone too fair. She finally understands the disrespect she has shown, and Baba insists that there are to be no more séances. Baba attempts to explain to the customers that it was all a scam anyway, but they refuse to believe her. As the customers leave, Baba collapses in a chair, and slowly drifts into a light sleep. Still on edge, Baba is jolted awake by who she believes to be an intruder. She hastily reaches for her gun and shoots in the direction of the noise. Toby, who had hidden out of fear, falls to the floor.

The Telephone

Composition Date: 1946

Runtime: Approx. 20 minutes

Cast:

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Lucy Emily Sternfeld-Dunn
Ben Joel Rogier

Production:

Stage Director Jen Stephenson
Musical Director J. Bradley Baker

Plot Summary:

Ben, bearing a gift, comes to visit Lucy at her apartment; he intends to propose to her before he leaves on a business trip. Despite his attempts to get her undivided attention, the couple is repeatedly interrupted by Lucy’s interminable conversations on the telephone. Between her calls, when Lucy leaves the room, Ben even takes the risk of trying to cut the telephone cord, though his attempt is unsuccessful. Not wanting to miss his train, Ben leaves without asking Lucy for her hand in marriage.

Exasperated, Ben makes one last attempt: He calls Lucy from outside and makes his proposal over the phone. Lucy happily consents, and the two join in a romantic duet over the phone line, at the end of which Lucy makes sure that Ben remembers her phone number.