Plea for Giancarlo Menotti and his operas.


Consul Gian_Carlo_Menotti_Paris-962x538

Giancarlo Menotti. For most Dutch opera lovers, he is no more than a vaguely familiar name. His operas have never been very popular here and performances can be counted on one hand.

A pity, really, because not only is his music exceptionally beautiful (think of a combination of Mascagni and Britten), but the subjects he deals with in his (self-written) libretti are socially engaged and they address current topics.

THE CONSUL

Consul


A newspaper article of February 12, 1947 on the suicide of a Polish emigrant whose visa for the USA had been rejected, was seen by Menotti, who sadly remembered the fate of his Jewish friends in Austria and Germany (his own partner, the composer Samuel Barber, was also Jewish). He took this sorry tale and used it as a basis for his first full-length opera. The subject has – unfortunately – lost none of its actuality and The Consul is and remains an opera that cuts right through your soul.



In 1960, it was produced for television, and that registration has been released on DVD by VAI (4266 ). In black and white, without subtitles (don’t be alarmed, there is very clear singing) and extremely dramatically portrayed by Jean Dalrymple.

Patricia Neway sings ‘To This We’ve Come’:


HILFE, HILFE DIE GLOBOLINKS!

Liebramann Globolinks

This opera is ‘for children and for those who love children’. The premiere took place in 1968 in Hamburg and a year later it was filmed in the studio.

I must confess that I’m not a big fan of children’s operas, but I’ve been shamelessly enjoying this one. It is an irresistible fairy tale about aliens (Globolinks) who are allergic to music and can only be defeated by means of music.

The images are very sensational for that period, full of colour and movement and the forest little Emily (the irresistible Edith Mathis) has to go through with her violet to get help is really frightening. The aliens are a bit of a let-down according to modern standards, but that doesn’t matter, it gives the whole a cuddly shine. The work is bursting with humour and irony; musical barbarians are lashed out at: the school principal who doesn’t like music turns into an alien himself.

There are also a lot of one-liners (“music leads you to the right path” or “when music dies, the end of the world is near”). It is incomprehensible a work like this is not performed all the time in every school (and I don’t mean just for the children), the subject is (and remains) very topical.

None of the roles, including the children, could be better cast, and this once again proves the high standard of the Hamburg ensemble. In which other city would you find so many great singers/actors who can perform so many different roles on such a high level?

5 comments

  1. Het valt wel mee met het aantal uitvoeringen van de opera’s van Menotti in ons land. The Medium werd uitgevoerd in de seizoenen 1951/1952, 1952/ 1953, 1953/1954, 1965/1966, 1977/1978, 1984/1985, 1989/1990. The Telephone in de seizoenen 1951/1952, 1965/1966, 1968/1969, 1972/1973, 1973/1974, 1976/1977, 1977/1978 en 1989/1990. Amahl and the Night Visitors in de seizoenen 1965/1966 en 1988/1989. Maria Golovin in het seizoen 1977/1978. The Consul in de seizoenen 1955/1956, 1979/1980 en 1990/1991. The Saint of Bleecker Street in de seizoenen 1956/1957 en 1969/1970. The Old Maid and the Thief in de seizoenen 1972/1973, 1973/1974, 1980/1981, 1981/1982 en 1989/1990. De uitvoeringen na 1995 staan hier nog niet vermeld. Het valt dus reuze mee met de populariteit van Menotti in Nederland. Begin jaren zestig begon in De Verenigde Staten de frontale aanval op Menotti’s “triviale en sentimentele opera” Sinds de tachtiger jaren is de herwaardering begonnen.

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    1. Ik woon bijna 50 jaar in NL en heb alleen The Telephone (HF een paar jaar geleden) en The Medium (gastvoorstelling uit België) kunnen zien. Ik weet dat veel amateurgezelschappen (niets mis mee, hoor) Amaal vaak op de rol zetten, maar ik had het over DNO, NRO,Opera Zuid en ZaterdagMatinee.

      Ben best benieuwd waar de uitvoeringen plaatsvonden.
      Btw: ooit de Globolinks gehad?

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  2. Alle opera’s werden uitgevoerd door professionele gezelschappen en staan allemaal vermeld in de Annalen van de Opera Gezelschappen in Nederland 1886 – 1995. Uitvoeringen door amateurgezelschappen heb ik niet meegerekend.

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  3. Ik heb prachtige herinneringen aan de uitvoeringen van The Consul door de Nederlandse Operastichting in 1979. Ook de uitvoeringen door de Opera-Studio van The Telephone in de seizoenen 1972-1973, 1973-1974 en 1977-1978. The Medium in de seizoenen 1977-1978, 1984-1985 en 1985 -1986. The Old Maid and the Thief in 1972-73, 1973-74, 1980-81 en 1981-1982 waren van hoog niveau . Zie: Een Noodzakelijke Luxe: 15 jaar Nederlandse Operastichting 1971-1986

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