Promotional Photo by Kevin Steele

The Consul

Gian-Carlo Menotti

Performed at the Granada Theatre

Friday, April 25, 2014, 7:30pm
Sunday, April 27, 2014, 2:30pm

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An operatic thriller... like Hitchcock set to music! The Consul, Gian-Carlo Menotti's Pulitzer Prize-winning opera, tells the harrowing tale of a devoted wife and mother who clashes with the bureaucracy of a nameless police state while trying to rescue her husband and secure freedom for her persecuted family. Menotti's nail-biting narrative and accessible, melodic score will keep you on the edge of your seat during this taut, suspenseful drama. The Consul is an Opera Santa Barbara premiere and will be directed by Ensemble Theatre's Jonathan Fox. Don't miss your chance to hear this moving modern masterwork!
~ In English, with projected captions above the stage

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Synopsis

Act I. John Sorel, a freedom fighter, staggers home calling for his wife, Magda. She and his mother rush in, and seeing that he is injured, tend his wounds. John tells them his meeting was raided by the secret police, whereupon Magda spots them approaching the house. The women rush to conceal John. As the police arrive, Mother is rocking her grandchild. The police interrogate the women and leave unsatisfied. John emerges from hiding and explains his plan: he will seek refuge in a neighboring country and communicate with Magda and Mother through Assan the glass-cutter. When their window is broken by a stone, they should contact Assan for the message. Magda and John say their goodbyes, and John encourages her to go to the Consul so she, Mother and their child can leave the country.

The Consul's waiting room is full. One after another, people approach the Secretary to seek visas and each is turned away on some pretext. Magda seeks an audience with the Consul, but the Secretary informs her that no one sees the Consul. When she gives her name, he tells her that her name is a number and denies her again. A magician approaches and tries to charm the Secretary, but the Secretary is not amused. The people despair.

Act II.
At home, Magda and Mother discuss their visa applications, which, predictably, have been delayed. Magda frets over her sick child, and Mother comforts the child with a lullaby. Magda, too, is lulled to sleep, but she swiftly falls into a nightmare about John, the Secretary and a vision of a dead child. She awakens with a scream, just as a rock shatters the glass in their window. Magda immediately calls Assan. Later, she answers a knock at the door only to find an agent of the secret police. He offers her visas in exchange for information about John's friends, but Magda rebuffs him furiously. Finally, Assan arrives to fix the window and shares the news that John is waiting in the mountains until she has her visa and can join him. Magda tells Assan to lie to John so he will save himself. Assan promises to do so. Mother discovers that the child has died in sleep and the women grieve.

The Consul's waiting room is full again. Magda begs the waiting people to let her go ahead of them, but they refuse. The magician hypnotizes the people and makes them all dance, distressing the Secretary. As the people are released from hypnosis, Magda approaches the Secretary again and begs to see the Consul. When the Secretary refuses her, Magda snaps and rages against the Secretary and the whole bureaucracy. Finally he relents and agrees to admit Magda when the Consul is finished with an important visitor. The visitor turns out to be the secret police agent. Magda faints.

Act III
. Magda continues to wait for the Consul, and the Secretary warns that the consulate will be closing soon. Assan arrives, looking for Magda. He tells her that John has discovered that both his child and Mother have died and he is on his way. Magda swiftly composes a note to dissuade John and sends it off with Assan. The people file away as the consulate closes. Just as the Secretary prepares to go, John rushes in looking for Magda. The Secretary tells John he should be able to catch up with her if he hurries, but it is too late - the secret police who have been tracking John descend on the consulate to arrest him. The Secretary quickly phones Magda to warn her.

Magda arrives home in a daze and ignores the ringing phone. She turns on the gas stove and covers her head with a shawl from the baby's cradle. She imagines that she sees all the people from the consulate's waiting room, John and Mother. As she hears the magician's voice calling her back to the gas stove, she dies.

~ courtesy of Arizona Opera