Opera Scotland

Medium 2023Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Read more about the opera Medium

Gian-Carlo Menotti is one of the most successful 20th Century composers, with a long career which also encompassed the establishment of the annual Festival of Two Worlds, divided between Spoleto in Umbria and Charleston, South Carolina.  For the last quarter of his long life he spent much of the year in East Lothian, so his neglect by performers in this country is surprising.

One of his earliest successes, The Medium is a short melodrama premiered in 1946.  The following year it enjoyed a good run on Broadway, in a dou,ble bill wit The Telephone, and transferred to London. It seems not to have been seen in Scotland until 1984, when the Washington Opera brought a staging to the Edinburgh Festival.  Tickets were like gold dust.

Here the Conservatoire mounted it as a partner to a more recent American chamber piece in Jake Heggie's Three Decembers.  This was a highly enterprising scheme, teaming a successful but underperformed work with a completely unknown one.

The Menotti was given an excellent performance centred on the band, as originally composed, of fourteen players, under the baton of William Cole.  The musical style is initially lyrical, almost Puccinian.  As the drama develops towards its tragic climax it becomes more hystercal.  The central part of the medium, Madame Flora, is a highly dramatic one - initially a nasty, bullying character, dominating her daughter Monica, her accomplice in the fake effects produced n the seances, as well as their mute servant, Toby, who is eventually shot by her in a drunken rage.

Three of the singers had previously done well in the Jake Heggie piece, Three Decembers, that formed the first part of the evening.  Flora Birkbeck, in particular, had a demanding part in the title role.  Nikki Martin made an excellent impression as Monica, while Daniel Gray Bell made a positive impression in his silent part. Charlotte Bateman, an excellent mezzo, joined the other two clients who found Madame's performance convincing.

Performance DatesMedium 2023

Map List

Alexander Gibson Opera Studio (RCS) | Glasgow

28 Oct, 19.15 30 Oct, 19.15 1 Nov, 19.15 3 Nov, 19.15

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