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
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
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).
Set in some unnamed place, John has fled his country, which is under a dictatorship, to save his life and wants his wife, Magda, his baby, and his mother to join him. Magda is frustrated by the red tape at the consul’s office and her inability to see him. When John returns home, he discovers that Magda is dead and he is arrested by the secret police.
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).
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.”
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).
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.
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.
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.
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!
The Foreign Woman
Soprano Jamie Chamberlin has been praised for her “shimmering tones” by Opera News, as Marilyn Monroe in the US Premiere of Marilyn Forever, and for her “jaw-dropping” Cunegonde in Candide (The Looseleaf Report’s Best of 2016), both with LBO. 2017 brings debuts at Chicago Opera Theater as Hazel in Glass’ The Perfect American, and as Lucia di Lammermoor with Pacific Opera Project. She has sung with LA Opera, LA Phil (world premiere, Wing on Wing), Merola Opera Program (SFO), The Pasadena Symphony. On film, Jamie’s voice can be heard during the epic water ballet scene in Hail Caesar! (Coen Brothers). www.jamiechamberlin.com
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.
Mezzo-soprano Kira Dills-DeSurra is thrilled to return to Long Beach Opera. Recent LBO engagements include Nurse/Secretary (The Perfect American) and Madame Trixie (Fairy Queen). At Chicago Opera Theatre, she performed the roles of Isolde of the White Hands (Le Vin Herbé), La Ciesca (Gianni Schicchi), Cecilio (Cover) and Chorus (Lucio Silla), and Mary (Cabildo). Her other roles include Stéphano (Roméo et Juliette) and Second Lady (Die Zauberflöte). She can be seen this summer performing 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).
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. In 2012, Andreas joined Chicago Opera Theater as General Director.
Kristof Van Grysperre
Kristof Van Grysperre, a native of Belgium, most recently conducted for LBO Hydrogen Jukebox, An American Soldier’s Tale/Fiddler’s Tale and The Difficulty of Crossing a Field. Hailed by the Orange County Register as “gifted and stylistically impeccable” and as “a conductor with pugilistic power and sensitivity” he has an international career as conductor, pianist, chamber musician and vocal coach. With a repertoire of over fifty operas, Van Grysperre conducted performances for Opera Pacific, Baltimore Opera Studio, Intimate Opera Company, SongFest and USC Opera. He has collaborated with leading instrumentalists and singers, such as Angela Meade, Maria Newman, Philip Webb and Susan Mohini Kane, and is the founder and artistic director of Angels Vocal Art.
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