December 5-11, 2002
Gian Carlo Menotti, still alive and kicking at 91 years of age, is the most frequently produced and highest-earning American opera composer in history. Many know Menotti's television Christmas opera Amahl and the Night Visitors, but in the '40s and '50s he was also the first to bring "popular opera" to the Broadway stage. The Medium, The Consul and The Saint of Bleeker Street, for which he crafted both music and libretto, laid the groundwork for the serious music theater works being created today.
The Curtis Institute of Music honors this distinguished 1933 graduate with a fully staged production of The Consul, which won a Pulitzer Prize after its 1950 Broadway run. Taken that year to London's West End by Laurence Olivier, the opera has been performed in 14 different languages. A response to Cold War totalitarian abuses of human rights, the piece echoes tragically familiar scenes around the world today: families divided by secret police actions, and the nightmare of seeking visas and political asylum in the face of bureaucratic hostility. And the music -- especially heroine Magda Sorel's big number "To This We've Come," with its anguished cries of "Papers! Papers!"-- still packs a hell of a wallop.
Rising director Chas Rader-Shieber, a frequent Curtis Opera Theatre guest, will stage Menotti's three-act work at the Haverford School's Centennial Hall. The internationally prominent David Agler will conduct the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. Over 40 of the Curtis Institute's alumni (including renowned sopranos Anna Moffo and Benita Valente, and current tenor heartthrob Juan Diego Florez) have gone on to sing with the Metropolitan Opera. The two Consul casts include such promising Curtis singers of today as Meredith Arwady, Joslin Romphf, Howard Reddy and Matthew Rose, some of whom have already made their mark at the Opera Company of Philadelphia and on other regional stages.
Fri.-Sat., Dec. 6-Dec. 7, 8 p.m, $25, The Curtis Opera Theatre, Centennial Hall, Haverford School, 450 Lancaster Ave., Haverford, 215-893-7902.