UCSC Opera Theater to present The Consul

The Consul photo
The Consul was the first full-length work of Gian Carlo Menotti.

The UCSC Music Department and UCSC Opera Theater will present five performances of Gian Carlo Menotti's three-act opera The Consul. Scheduled for May 29-June 1,  this year’s Spring Opera — featuring top student and graduate singers directed by Brian Staufenbiel, and the UCSC Orchestra, conducted by Nicole Paiement — is expected to draw capacity crowds to the Music Center Recital Hall.

The Consul was Menotti's first full-length work. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1950 and the New York Drama Critics Circle award for the best musical play in 1954, running on Broadway for 269 performances.

Written in America during the height of the McCarthy Era, The Consul is set in post-war Europe, in a nameless country torn by civil strife and ruled by dictatorship.

In Fanfare magazine, Benjamin Pernick said The Consul is “gripping, dramatic and affecting, with a near-ideal match of subject and music... The Consul is a potent work of music drama.”

As the opera opens, the audience is introduced to political dissident John Sorel – a man on the run from the secret police with no choice but to leave his wife, baby, and mother behind. Before he flees his country, John instructs his wife, Magda, to go to the consulate to secure a travel visa so she can leave as well. She makes daily visits to the Consul's office only to become trapped in endless bureaucratic red-tape. Ultimately, a hopeless Magda is driven to utter desperation.

About the Composer
Composer of the much-loved Christmas opera Amahl and the Night Visitors, Gian Carlo Menotti (1911-2007) wrote 25 operas, almost all in English, in a style intended to please contemporary American audiences. The Consul is less well known than Amahl, but its powerful contemporary theme certainly makes the opera timeless and of major importance in his output.

Born in Italy, Menotti was educated in the United States at institutions including Philadelphia's Curtis Institute. He is often revered as the father of American opera. Menotti is the founder of the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, and its sister festival, Charleston, South Carolina's Spoleto USA. He earned a reputation as an arts ambassador between the two continents and was awarded a Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement in 1984.

Menotti died at the age of 95 in early 2007. In a February 2007 obituary of Menotti, the New York Times wrote that his works, "including The Medium, The Consul, The Telephone and The Saint of Bleecker Street all showed that opera could sustain itself in a Broadway theater, something that Kurt Weill and George Gershwin managed to do only sporadically."

Tickets to UCSC’s Spring Opera
Tickets to the popular UCSC Spring Opera can be purchased from the UCSC Ticket Office by calling 831-459-2159 or visiting santacruztickets.com. The five scheduled performances include three evening presentations – Thursday, Friday, Saturday, May 29, 30, 31 at 7:30 p.m., and two matinees – Saturday, May 31 and Sunday, June 1 at 2 p.m. Reserved seats are $24 for the general public, $20 for seniors and $10 for students.

Support Opera at UCSC
Ticket sales provide only one-third of the financing needed to produce our annual opera productions. As a result, the Opera Circle friends group was formed to promote the opera and to solicit private support from the community. To learn more about supporting the Opera Program at UCSC or joining the Opera Circle, please contact Matt Henry at mfhenry@ucsc.edu.


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Spring 2008