April 17, 2009 -- The University of Wyoming Department of Theatre and Dance will close its 2008-2009 season with two short operas for the price of one: Gian Carlo Menotti's "The Medium," a harrowing tale of fake clairvoyant in decline, followed by Giacomo Puccini's comic opera "Gianni Schicchi," a satire on the "deadly sin" of greed inspired by a line in Dante's "The Divine Comedy."
Directed by Vocal Arts Professor and UW Opera Theatre Head Larry L. Hensel, the operas run April 24-25 and April 27-29 at 7:30 p.m. on the Fine Arts Center main stage. Tickets cost $7 for students, $11 for seniors and $14 for others. To get tickets, stop by the Fine Arts Box Office, call (307) 766-6666, or go online at www.uwyo.edu/finearts.
Hensel notes that while the relationship between the two operas may not be immediately apparent, they address similar themes. He says Menotti's "The Medium" is the perfect companion to Puccini's comedy.
"Both deal with illusion, death, deceit, manipulation and high-stakes emotion," Hensel says.
Originally commissioned by Columbia University in 1946, "The Medium" ran on Broadway for 211 performances in 1947 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, establishing Menotti as one of modern opera's foremost composer-librettists. The production features guest artist Melissa Malde, mezzo-soprano, from the University of Northern Colorado.
Audiences are advised that "The Medium" contains mature subject matter, including scenes of child abuse and drunkenness, which some may find objectionable. Two blanks will be fired during the production.
Second on the bill, "Gianni Schicchi" is the third of the trio of Puccini operas known as "Il trittico" first performed at the Metropolitan Opera in 1918. Puccini originally set the opera in Florence at the beginning of the 14th century. The UW production updates the setting to 1918, but the location is an apartment in Lower Manhattan's Little Italy. The production also features guest artist David Hodel, tenor.
"Setting this piece in Little Italy in the early 20th century has allowed us to draw more connections between the two operas," says Hensel. "Both operas take place in the same apartment, but while ‘Gianni Schicchi' occurs just after WWI when Little Italy was in its golden age, ‘The Medium' takes place 30 years later, after the area has run down and is in a period of decay."
Posted on Friday, April 17, 2009