About The Opera

Music and Libretto by Gian Carlo Menotti

“...an opera of eloquence, momentousness, and intensity of expression... written from the heart,” - New York Times

"The Consul is a denouncement of all forms of tyranny." - Gian Carlo Menotti

Riveting. Powerful. Relevant. Patricia Racette, one of the great singing actresses of our time, stars as Magda Sorel in this politically charged refugee thriller. Magda is pleading for a visa to save her persecuted family, but is confronted with a soul-destroying consular bureaucracy where “your name is a number,” and “your story is a case.” This suspenseful drama holds your attention from beginning to end and won both the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical and the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Music. A chilling story about the world we live in.

Menotti's opera had its premiere on March 1, 1950, in Philadelphia. It would go on to win the New York Drama Critic Circle award as the Best Musical Play of 1950. It would also earn Menotti a Pulitzer Prize. The opera takes place in an anonymous European totalitarian state. Menotti dramatized the despair of many immigrants who risked and lost everything.

 

During and after World War II, many people attempted to flee the hopelessness of their lives in Europe. Newspapers were filled with articles about refugees and immigrants. As an American immigrant with Italian citizenship, Menotti was painfully aware of the immigration bureaucracy, especially after his being labeled an "enemy alien" during WWII. He was inspired to write his opera based on a tragic article from February 12, 1947 in the New York Times:
 
IMMIGRANT A SUICIDE. WOMAN DENIED ENTRY TO U.S. HANGS HERSELF ON ELLIS ISLAND. Mrs. Sofia Feldy, a 38-year-old Polish immigrant, who was refused admission to the United States by a board of special inquiry at Ellis Island, Febr. 6, committed suicide by hanging at the Ellis Island detention room, the Immigrant and Naturalization Service announced yesterday. Mrs. Feldy was denied admission to the country, after her husband, Antoni Feldy of Chicago, testified that he had divorced her in November, 1940, on grounds of desertion. Mrs. Feldy, who came here January 19 with her daughter, declared she had received no notice of the divorce which her husband claimed he sent to her in Poland. Mr. Feldy agreed to accept his daughter, who was admitted on that basis, but his former wife was excluded by a vote of the board. 

'To This We've Come'  from The Consul

To this we’ve come: that men withhold the world from men. 
No ship nor shore for him who drowns at sea. 
No home nor grave for him who dies on land. 
To this we’ve come: that man be born a stranger upon God’s earth, 
that he be chosen without a chance for choice, 
that he be hunted without the hope of refuge. 
To this we’ve come, to this we’ve come;
 
and you, you, too, shall weep. 
If to men, not to God, we now must pray, 
tell me Secretary, tell me, who are these men? 
If to them, not to God, we now must pray, 
tell me, Secretary, tell me. 
Who are these dark archangels? Will they be conquered? 
Will they be doomed? 
 
Is there one, anyone behind those doors 
to whom the heart can still be explained? 
Is there one, anyone who still may care? 
Tell me, Secretary, tell me. 
Have you ever seen the Consul? 
Does he speak, does he breathe? 
Have you ever spoken to him? 
 
....Oh! The day wll come, I know, 
when our hearts aflame will burn your paper chains. 
Warn the Consul, Secretary, warn him. 
That day neither inl nor seal shall cage our souls. 
That day will come, that day will come! 

 

Gian Carlo Menotti (1911-2007)

The composer and librettist was born on 7 July 1911, in Cadegliano, Italy. At the age of 7, under the guidance of his mother, he began to compose songs, and four years later he wrote the words and music of his first opera, The Death of Pierrot. In 1923 he began his formal musical training at the Verdi Conservatory in Milan. Following the death of his father, his mother took him to the United States, where he was enrolled at Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music. There he completed his musical studies, working in composition under Rosario Scalero. 
The Consul, Menotti's first full-length work, won the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics Circle award as the best musical play of the year in 1954. By far Menotti's best-known work is the Christmas classic Amahl and the Night Visitors, composed for NBC-TV in 1951. He wrote a total of 28 operas. His instrumental works include two piano concertos (1945 and 1982), a violin concerto (1952), triple concerto, symphony (1976) and Canti della Lontananza, a cycle of seven songs for soprano and piano written for Elisabeth Schwarzkopf in 1967. In 1984 Menotti was awarded the Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement in the arts. He was chosen the 1991 "Musician of the Year" by Musical America.


Coming To America 

Scroll through the timeline to follow the tangled history of America’s ever-changing immigration policies. (view in full-screen mode) The interactive chart beneath it shows rates of legal immigration from 1820 to the present (use the scroll bar to zoom into specific chunks of time). 

 

Synopsis

Place: An unidentified totalitarian country.

Act 1
Scene 1
The political dissident John Sorel is on the run from the secret police. At his home, his wife Magda and his mother hide him. The police arrive and search, but cannot find him. John says that he will escape to the border, and tells Magda to apply for a visa to leave the country. He will wait to cross the border until his wife, mother and child are safe.
Scene 2: The consul's office
Many people are waiting to obtain visas. Magda applies and joins the crowd, but the secretary cannot promise anything.


Act 2
Scene 1
The child is ill, and John's mother sings to comfort the child. The police try to extract information from Magda on her husband's compatriots, but she refuses. A message then arrives from John urging Magda to hurry with the visa.
Scene 2: The consulate
Magda is desperate to see the consul. A magician, waiting for a visa, attempts to impress the secretary by performing magic tricks and hypnotizing the rest of the room into believing they are at a ball, but he only ends up frightening her. The secretary says that she may see him once an "important visitor" has finished his business. This visitor proves to be the chief of police. Magda's fears increase.


Act 3
Scene 1
Magda's child and mother-in-law have died. At the consul's office, Magda learns that John is planning to risk his life and return for her. Magda thinks of suicide to try to protect John, and leaves the consulate. As the office is about to shut down for the day, John suddenly arrives, but with the police in pursuit. The police capture John, and the secretary gets on the phone to try to contact Magda.
Scene 2
Despondent, and with visions of her past crowding her mind, Magda kills herself. Her telephone then rings, the secretary trying in vain to contact her.

Cast

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Patricia Racette

Magda Sorel

Soprano Patricia Racette has appeared regularly at the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Canadian Opera Company, Royal Opera House, La Scala, Paris Opera, and the Bayerische Staatsoper in critically acclaimed performances of the title roles of Salome, Lady Macbeth of Mtsenk, Madama Butterfly, Tosca, Jenufa, Kátya Kabanova; all three lead soprano roles in Il Trittico, Minnie in La Fancuilla del West, and Elle in La voix humaine.  She has also created roles the roles of Leslie Crosbie in Paul Moravec’s The Letter (Santa Fe Opera); Roberta Alden in Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy (Metropolitan Opera), the title role in Tobias Picker’s Emmeline (Santa Fe Opera), Love Simpson in Carlisle Floyd’s Cold Sassy Tree (Houston Grand Opera), and the title role in Tobias Picker's Dolores Claiborne (San Francisco Opera).

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Justin Ryan

John Sorel

A preeminent interpreter of American leading men, Justin Ryan raised national attention last season for his “unflinching and daring” (Musical America), “deftly conveyed, strong portrayal” (NY Times) of the painter Edward Hopper in Hopper’s Wife at NYCO; and in Philip Glass’s The Perfect American at LBO, Ryan’s “touching” portrait of Walt Disney (Chicago Tribune, LA Times) was met with a wave of acclaim, critics extolling his ample “vocal and physical charisma and dramatic range” (LA Times), and the Hyde Park Herald declaring, “Ryan has a clear and commanding voice, and the ability to grab your attention and hold on to it.” 

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Audrey Babcock

The Secretary

Known for her commanding, powerful performances as Carmen and her dark, hypnotic portrayals of Maddalena in Rigoletto mezzo-soprano Audrey Babcock is equally recognized as a choice singer for new works, having premiered several new operas including Tobias Picker’s Thérèse Raquin, With Blood, With Ink, La Reina, The Poe Project, and Winter’s Tale. Recent highlights include Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni (New Orleans Opera), Aldonza in The Man of La Mancha (Utah Opera), Maddalena in Rigoletto (Palm Beach Opera), Carmen (Dayton Opera & Fort Worth Opera), and Mrs. Mister in Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock (Opera Saratoga).

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Victoria Livengood

The Mother

Since her acclaimed Met debut with James Levine in 1991, GRAMMY recipient Victoria Livengood has been known for her dynamic portrayals in more than 120 Met performances. Her enormous versatility has allowed her to sing over 100 roles throughout the United States, Europe, South America, Canada and Asia. Recent highlights include both the Mother and the Witch in Hansel and Gretel with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Eunice in A Streetcar Named Desire for Hawaii Opera Theater, a return to Seattle Opera for a role debut as Kabanicha in Katya Kabanova, and a company and role debut with Opera Omaha in Johnathan Dove’s Flight.  

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Cedric Berry

Secret Police Agent

Cedric Berry is a Bass Baritone who has performed with Long Beach Opera, Chicago Opera Theatre, Los Angeles Opera, The Industry Opera, Savonlinna Opera Festival of Finnland, Banlieurs Bleues Festival of France and the Ravinia Music Festival, to name a few. He has appeared with Pacific Symphony, Arizona Symphony, Santa Fe Symphony, Luckman Jazz orchestra, Pasadena Pops Orchestra, California Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Telemann Chamber Orchestra of Japan. He has also been the recipient of several awards including first place in the Metropolitan Opera Western Region Competition.  For more information visit www.cedricberry.com.

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Nathan Granner

The Magician (Nika Magadoff), Plain Clothes Man

Upcoming Engagements for Tenor Nathan Granner includeRodolfo (La Bohéme) with Opera San Luis Obispo, Briquet (Eugene Onegin) with Spoleto Festival USA and Curly (Oklahoma) with Ash Lawn Opera.  Recent engagements include Nemorino (L'elisir d’amore), Ferrando (Cosí fan tutte), and Rodolfo in performances with Lyric Opera Kansas City, Opera Theater of St. Louis, Tulsa Opera, Wolf Trap and Glimmerglass Opera.  He has created six new opera roles in three years, including his portrayal of Kanye West.  He is a founding member of The American Tenors, whose Sony Masterworks album reached the top five in the classical crossover charts.  

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Zeffin Quinn Hollis

Mr. Kofner, Plain Clothes Man, Assan

Zeffin Quinn Hollis headed the Live International broadcasts of the Ward opera rendition of Miller’s The Crucible & Tobias Picker’s Emmeline, both for MezzoTV. No stranger to world premieres, Hollis has taken part in many inaugural productions for composers like Jake Heggie, Thomas Pasatieri, & Tarik O’Regan. He has been heard at Dallas Opera, Santa Fe Opera, New York City Opera, Palm Beach Opera, New Orleans Opera, Pécs & Szeged National Theaters Hungary, Lviv National Theatre Ukraine, this is his sixth production with Long Beach Opera. Recent roles include Sweeney Todd, Falstaff, & Scarpia. Find more at zeffin.com!

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Jamie Chamberlin

The Foreign Woman

Soprano Jamie Chamberlin, recognized for her “shimmering tones” (Opera News) as Marilyn Monroe in Marilyn Forever, and for her “jaw-dropping” Cunegonde in Candide (both at LBO). 2017-18 season highlights: Chicago Opera Theater (Hazel George,The Perfect American), Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor (Pacific Opera Project), and three new roles at LBO. She has sung with LA Opera, LA Phil (world premiere, Wing on Wing), Merola Opera Program (SFO). Jamie’s one of a kind voice can be heard in the Coen Bros. film Hail Caesar!, and as a Delos Recording Artist. www.jamiechamberlin.com

 

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Lara Ryan

Anna Gomez, voice on record

Lara is pleased to be returning to LBO after performing the role of Diane Disney in last season’s The Perfect American by Philip Glass, a role she also performed at Chicago Opera Theatre.  About her performance in the title role of Victor Herbert’s grand opera Natoma, Opera News wrote “(as Natoma) Lara Ryan sang with a creamy soprano full of power at both ends of her wide range.” She has sung with the New York Philharmonic, New England Symphony, Collegiate Chorale, Utah Festival Opera, Anchorage Opera, Madison Lyric Opera, Opera Pacific, Sacred Music in a Sacred Space, amongst others. 

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Kira Dills-DeSurra

Vera Boronel

Mezzo-soprano Kira Dills-DeSurra is thrilled to return to Long Beach Opera for the second time this season. Recent LBO engagements include Vera Boronel (The Consul), Nurse/Secretary (The Perfect American) and Madame Trixie (Fairy Queen). At Chicago Opera Theatre, she performed the roles of  La Ciesca (Gianni Schicchi), Cecilio (Cover)/Chorus (Lucio Silla), and Mary (Cabildo). Her other roles include Stéphano (Roméo et Juliette) and Second Lady (Die Zauberflöte). This past summer she sang Mercédès in Carmen at Central City Opera. Ms. Dills-DeSurra hails from Petaluma, CA and is an alumna of Roosevelt CCPA (MM) and USC (BM).

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Andreas Mitisek

Stage Director

Since 2003, Mitisek has been LBO's Artistic & General Director. Recent LBO directing credits: The Difficulty of Crossing a Field, King Gesar, Macbeth, Tell-Tale Heart, Van Gogh, The Paper Nautilus, Ainadamar, and Maria de Buenos Aires. Recent LBO conducting credits:Thérèse Raquin, I was Looking at the Ceiling and then I Saw the Sky, The Death of Klinghoffer, Camelia la Tejana, and The Fall of the House of Usher (co-production with COT). Other conducting credits: Joruri in Tokyo, Don Giovanni (Seattle Opera), Madama Butterfly (Orlando Opera), Jane Eyre (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis) and Eugene Onegin (Teatro Municipal in Santiago de Chile). Mitisek has also conducted the Austrian and Italian premieres of Nixon in China.

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Kristof Van Grysperre

Conductor

Belgian conductor Kristof Van Grysperre, hailed by the The Orange County Register as “gifted and stylistically impeccable” and “with pugilistic power and sensitivity,” has conducted numerous productions at LBO to high acclaim, including the world premiere of Fallujah, which he also conducted in his recent NYC Opera debut. On the podium he is well known and respected for clarity and precision and his great mastery of details. With a repertoire of over fifty operas, he has conducted for Opera Pacific, Baltimore Opera, Intimate Opera, SongFest, USC Opera and Cal State LA.  He is the artistic director of Angels Vocal Art.

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Alan E. Muraoka

Set Designer

Alan E. Muraoka works as a film and television designer and art director as well as a theatrical set designer. Film design credits include BadAsssss! and Edmond. Art direction credits include Little Miss Sunshine, Ghost World, Washington Square, Liberty Heights, and NYPD Blue. Theatrical projects have included Our Town, Dead Man Walking, and Oklahoma for Central City Opera, Thérèse Raquin and The Fall of the House of Usher for Chicago Opera Theater and LBO as well as LBO’s critically acclaimed site specific productions, notably Ricky Ian Gordon’s Orpheus and Euridice staged in an Olympic swimming pool. www.alanmuraoka.com


National Endowement for the Arts    California Arts Council Arts Council for Long Beach City of Long Beach Art Works Opera America KUSC

This activity is supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency. Learn more at www.arts.ca.gov
Supported in part by a grant from the Arts Council for Long Beach and the City of Long Beach.
Long Beach Opera events are supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission