Menotti’s “The Medium”: A Spooky Connection with the Spirit World
Above: Vintage video of the 1948 live TV performance ofÂ The Medium by Gian Carlo Menotti
Did you hear that? That thing that just went bump in the night? Maybe it’s just the black cat dragging in another wayward trick-or-treater. Or maybe it’s something stirring in the world beyond.
Gian Carlo Menotti’s 1946 operaÂ The MediumÂ brings the dark side of the spirit world to life on stage, as charlatanÂ sÃ©ance leader Madame Flora’s meltdown in one of her own bogusÂ sÃ©ances sends her spiraling to the brink of insanity, eventually ending in tragedy. Composed at the height of American “sÃ©ance fever,”Â The MediumÂ doesn’t prove whether or not there are such things as ghosts. But it does stand as a testament to the power of suggestion to transform itself into belief and to turn the mind against itself. In other words, ifÂ The MediumÂ tells us anything, it is that we have boundless power to haunt ourselves, that we can become our own ghosts.
In the Dec. 12, 1948 CBS “Studio One” live television performance of The MediumÂ (see video above),Â Contralto Marie Powers is a commandingÂ Madame Flora, one of her signature roles.Â Lois Hunt is a convincing ingenue as Madame Flora’s abetting daughter, Monica. And the ghost? Well, you tell me.
So, this Halloween take a walk on the dark side with Menotti’sÂ The Medium.