The Consul (2019 Summer Amphitheater Series)
Do not miss this interpretation of famed American composer Gian Carlo Menotti’s 1950 powerful and universal opera, The Consul, directed by acclaimed soprano Yolanda F. Johnson and renowned opera director Nancy Rhodes. When the opera premiered in 1950, The New York Times hailed it as “a smash hit” and “an opera of eloquence, momentousness, and intensity of expression.” It is the story of John Sorel and his wife, Magda, and how he flees the secret police in an unnamed country to gain freedom in a new land. Nearly 70 years later, the words and music of The Consul ring just as true. Performance followed by Q&A with the creative team and cast.
This program was part of the 2019 Summer Amphitheater Series. Learn more about the free series here.
Director’s Notes by Nancy Rhodes
The Consul, an opera with words and music by Gian-Carlo Menotti, won both the Pulitzer Prize in Music and the New York Drama Critic’s Circle Award. Hailed by The New York Times at its Broadway opening on March 15, 1950, as “an opera . . . written from the heart with a blazing sincerity and a passion of human understanding. . . . it is torn out of the life of the present-day world, and poses an issue which mercilessly confronts humanity today.” Indeed, the opera remains as timely today as when it was written seventy years ago, taking on a renewed relevance for contemporary audiences.
Gian-Carlo Menotti wrote The Consul in response to news reports and personal encounters he had with refugees fleeing Europe after World War II. He dramatized the despair, risk and loss of immigrants, and his own experience as an American immigrant with Italian citizenship labeled as an “enemy alien” during World War II.
Tonight’s performance of The Consul features a selection of vignettes from the opera that relates the tragic story of Magda and John Sorel who are attempting to emigrate for a better life. Reflecting the current immigration crisis, the separation of families and children today, and the struggle for freedom against oppression and the nature of unrelenting bureaucracy, we are setting the opera in present-day Mexico, near the Texas border, with scenes in the American Consulate office. Following the performance, there will be an audience talk-back discussion with the singers and creative team. We are pleased to have the opportunity to present these excerpts from Menotti’s opera at the Hudson River Museum.