Friday, December 17, 2021

The Extra-Large

At this time of year, my thoughts often turn to dear Mr. Menotti, for I have sung quite a few performance of his brilliant Christmas opera Amahl and the Night Visitors. (No, not as Amahl.  No, also not as the Mother.)  However, this time around, I was very pleased, upon perusing the bountiful offerings of, to find that a performance of The Medium from Croatia was on offer.  How could I resist?

Dubravka Šeparović Mušović
as Flora
Photo:  Mara Bratos

Most young people might only know of The Medium from "Monica's Waltz", which it seems every young soprano must sing as a first-year voice major. Let me tell you, there is a depth in this opera that requires years of life experience to understand. I believe it deserves place among those many great operas that we understand in different, and one hopes more perceptive, ways as one enters every new stage of life. In a nutshell, this is the story of a woman who has made a successful business as a pretend medium finding and fearing that there is more to life, more to be answered for. In usual operatic convention, it does not end well.

Allow me to congratulate the Croatian National Theater Zagreb for this production, visually, dramatically, and musically. Usually one sees a young soubrette as Monica, the daughter of the medium Baba, who often assists in the theatrical seances. I don't wish to sound harsh, but in this case, seeing what was clearly intended to appear as the faded beauty of a not-as-young Monica gave a new insight into the role. Additionally, the mute role of Toby was played with a more cynical and knowing edge that we often see.  The Madame Flora/Baba of Dubravka Šeparović Mušović (that's the only name I will cut and paste!) was simply amazing! In the direction, the costuming, the hair & makeup, and the lighting, we were given a Flora that was both detestable and sympathetic, bringing at least one tear to this bitter old eye.

I have seen this opera before. I produced it once as part of a one-act opera festival, with stellar young singers and director.  (My own living room furniture was used for the set!) But never have I seen it with this level of emotional impact.  

Please use the link above to see a cast list and other credits.  It's just after 6 a.m. on a Friday morning, and I've been watching opera and British history videos all night while crocheting. I can't be bothered.  But please do watch this!

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