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THE TELEPHONE
THE MEDIUM

by Gian Carlo Menotti
(1911-2007)

November 12, 13, 19, & 20, 2022 at 3 PM
Free Sneak Peek of the opera: November 9, 2022, at 7 PM
OLPH Catholic Academy of Brooklyn

Conducted by Gregory Ortega
Staged by John Schenkel

Performed in English with supertitles


The Casts

TBA


The Telephone

Ben has just arrived at Lucy’s apartment and has given her an abstract sculpture as a gift. He tells her that he’s going away and wants to ask her something before he leaves. As he fumbles for the right words, Lucy’s telephone rings. She then becomes involved in a series of inane telephone conversations. Ben tries to catch her between calls, and in desperation even tries to cut the telephone wire when Lucy leaves the room. But before he can do so, the telephone rings again, and she rushes back in to pick it up and cradles it in her arms to protect it from him. Lucy insists on calling a friend about a quarrel she had with someone and promises to make it short. But of course it isn’t. Realizing that the telephone will never let him tell Lucy that he loves her, Ben leaves. When Lucy sees that he is gone, she wonders what he wanted to tell her and is saddened by his absence. But he calls her from a public telephone outside and asks her to marry him. She joyously agrees. He must hurry to his train, but before he goes, she tells him to call her every day. He writes her number down in ecstasy.


The Medium

Act I

In the squalid apartment of Madame Flora (“Baba”), a medium, her daughter Monica and her servant boy Toby, who cannot speak, are playing with Baba’s costumes. Baba comes home drunk and is furious that they haven’t prepared for that evening’s séance. When regular clients Mr. and Mrs. Gobineau arrive with a new one, Mrs. Nolan, Monica and Toby hide. The lights go out, and Baba goes into a “trance.” Monica appears in a faint light, pretending to be Mrs. Nolan’s dead daughter. The Gobineaus then “speak” to their toddler son, whose childish laugh Monica imitates. Baba suddenly gasps in terror, demanding to know who touched her, and throws the guests out. She explains to Monica that she felt a cold hand on her throat. Then Baba blames Toby and attacks him. Monica calms Baba’s rage with a mournful lullaby about a black swan. Suddenly Baba hears a Voice calling, “Mother, mother, are you there?” Monica tells her that she’s imagining it, but Baba attacks Toby again. Baba prays while Monica resumes the lullaby. Baba’s prayer is interrupted by a child’s laughter.

Act II

A few days later, Toby entertains Monica with a puppet show. They are falling in love. Baba comes home drunk again. She cajoles, threatens, and whips Toby to get him to say what happened at the séance. The Gobineaus and Mrs. Nolan return for another séance, but Baba drives them away, returning their money and admitting that she cheated them. Then she throws Toby out, in spite of Monica’s pleas, and orders Monica into her room. Baba again hears the Voice calling and is afraid. She prays, laughs, and finally drinks herself into a stupor. Toby sneaks in, looking for Monica, but he makes a noise that awakens Baba. He quickly hides behind the puppet theater curtain. Baba gets a gun and, seeing the curtain move, shoots at it. As Toby collapses, bleeding, Baba exclaims, “I’ve killed the ghost!” Monica runs for help. Baba bends over Toby’s body and asks, “Was it you?”

©2022 Linda Cantoni