Opera Tackles Coping With Ubiquitous Telephones…In 1947?

People ignoring their companions to talk to someone else on the phone is an issue as old as the telephone itself.(Photo: Genevieve Clark - Library of Congress)
People ignoring their companions to talk to someone else on the phone is an issue as old as the telephone itself.(Photo: Genevieve Clark - Library of Congress)

A couple sits at a restaurant table eating dinner and chatting…not with each other, but each with someone else on a cellphone.  A department store clerk rings up a sale while the customer talks to their babysitter, or daughter, or boss…on a cellphone.  Does anyone speak to the person next to them anymore?

Sometimes it seems everyone else is more interesting than the person right in front of you and that you might have a better chance at carrying on a conversation by leaving the room and calling them.

A 21st century problem, correct?  Think again.

Composer Gian Carlo Menotti saw all of this coming…in 1947.

The Spoleto Festival’s little brother, the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, recently celebrated Menotti’s 100th birthday with a performance of Menotti’s one-act opera The Telephone.

Watch a scene from Menotti’s The Telephone performed by Main Street Opera:

It was a 20th-century look at a problem as old as Alexander Graham Bell’s marvelous, maddening invention.

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