Flavio Emilio Scogna / L'Orchestra Filarmonica Italiana

Menotti: The Medium; The Telephone

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An attractive feature of this budget-priced recording, based on performances at the Teatro Comunale Luciano Pavarotti in Modena, is that it pairs two short operas that were premiered together: The Telephone was written to fill out the evening at the premiere of The Medium in 1946, and it succeeds admirably in this regard, proving a bracing comic foil to the rather overwrought paranormal events of The Medium. That points to the principal strength of Menotti, who generally wrote his own texts; he had a direct dramatic sense that may have been influenced by his experience of Broadway musical theater. The Telephone stands on its own; although its little story of a wedding proposal interrupted by multiple phone calls is slight, it is perfectly calibrated to the music (not to mention more relevant than ever), and it unrolls without missing a beat. The libretto of The Medium allows for all kinds of stage vocal effects as well, and what's impressive is that the international group of young singers, from the Raina Kabaivanska Masterclass in Bavaria, put together the involvement in the text that's necessary to keep the music moving. The reasonably uniform American accent maintained by the singers is noteworthy. They get brisk support from the Orchestra Filarmonica Italiana under veteran Flavio Emilia Scogna. The world may not have been clamoring for a new recording of these works, especially one from outside the U.S., but these performances have immediacy and energy.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 24:56
blue highlight denotes track pick