The Merciad

‘The Medium’ opera was a Halloween treat

Jenny Sabliov

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On Halloween night, the Mary D’ Angelo Opera Theatre scared the audience with the presentation of “The Medium,” a short opera by Gian Carlo Menotti.
Before the show, a little Halloween party took place in the lobby of Hirt, where attendees showed off their costumes and indulged in spooky treats, tarot readings and had their future told to them by a hired psychic.
There was much controversy surrounding the opera before the performance, but in retrospect it was completely unwarranted.
“The Medium” is about a con artist named Madame Flora who is mainly referred to as Baba.
In Romanian, and any language with slavic roots, “babă” means “old woman.”
Baba pretends to be a clairvoyant who can channel the spirits of dead children, swindling money from their grieving parents.
The “séance” that some were worried about was not even close to a real séance.
Baba was a fake in the opera, so she was obviously not going to perform a real séance; the concern about this was unfounded.
To be honest, though, I was a little disappointed that real spooky things did not happen in the Walker Recital Hall.
Katherine Soroka, adjunct voice faculty, played the role of Baba.
Soroka’s command over the dissonant tones throughout the opera was only a small portion of her skill. She truly brought the character to life in the hour that the opera took place.
In the opera, Baba has a daughter named Monica (performed by soprano Maria Dombrowski, senior, contract major) who assists Baba with the con and voices the dead children.
Toby is an adopted Romani boy who is tacet throughout the entire opera; he was played by Gabriel Grey (junior, Music).
Toby was abused by Baba and was Monica’s love interest.
The characters Mr. and Mrs. Gobineau were played by Royce Strider, instructor of voice, and Abigail Wise (freshman, Performance).
They were grieving parents who were mourning the loss of their 2-year-old son, who passed away after falling into a fountain and drowning while Mrs. Gobineau was picking flowers.
At the point of introduction, the couple had been visiting Baba for two years just to hear their “son” giggle.
Mrs. Nolan, the final character in the opera, was played by Michelle Elleman-Cali, ’16.
Nolan had recently lost her 16-year-old daughter whom Monica pretends to be during the séance.
After the Gobineaus hear their “son” during the séance, Baba feels a phantom hand clutching her throat.
She panics and screams at her guests to leave her home.
She comes to the conclusion that it was Toby who grabbed her even though he was in a separate room.
As Monica sang “The Black Swan,” a lullaby, Baba heard another voice and again presumed it was Toby.
Baba believes that she was being terrorized due to conning grief-stricken families over the years so decides to make amends.
However, her attempt failed when her guests do not believe her when she tells them the truth.
Once she drives the guests out of her home, she throws Toby out into the streets against Monica’s protests.
As Baba becomes increasingly intoxicated, Toby sneaks back into the home to find Monica.
When he makes a sound, Baba believes it is the ghost so she grabs her revolver and shoots Toby.
As he dies, she asks if it was him all along.
Stay tuned for future performances by the music department’s Opera Theatre which includes “Amahl and the Night Visitors” by Menotti and “Don Pasquale” by Gaetono Donizetti.

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‘The Medium’ opera was a Halloween treat