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The Medium

tragedy in two acts

Music by Gian Carlo Menotti
Libretto by the composer
About The Medium

The Medium was commissioned by the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University.

Cast of Characters
Monica, daughter of Madame Flora, s Toby, a mute, actor
Madame Flora, c Mrs. Gobineau, s
Mr. Gobineau, bar Mrs. Nolan, ms
A Voice, offstage, s

Act I

Monica, the daughter of Madame Flora ("Baba"), and Toby, a mute boy living with them, are playing while Madame Flora is away. When she returns, she is furious that they are not ready for the seance she has planned; Monica prevents her from striking Toby. They busily prepare, and when the three guests arrive for the seance, Monica pretends to be the teenage daughter of one and the baby son of another, while Toby works the mechanical devices that control the motion of the lights and the furniture in the room. Suddenly, Madame Flora stops the seance and sends the customers away. She tells Monica she felt a spectral hand clutch her throat during the seance. She suspects Toby at first, but as Monica tries to comfort her Flora hears a voice imitating Monica's performance at the seance.

Act II

A few days later, Monica is watching Toby perform a puppet show for her; then she dances for him. Monica realizes he is trying to tell her that he loves her; pretending to be his voice, she says it for him. She runs off as Flora reenters; the medium tries cajole Toby into confessing that he was the one who touched her during the seance, or that he knows something about it. When he does not answer, she begins to whip him, but is interrupted by the doorbell. The three clients from the previous seance enter; Flora gives them their money back and tries to convince them they have been cheated, even showing them the wires and microphones, but they refuse to believe her. She throws them out, and despite Monica's protests, throws Toby out, too. Monica goes to her room, and Flora, frightened by what she has experienced, drinks herself to sleep. Toby returns; Flora awakes, and Toby hides from her; Flora, thinking he is the spirit she felt, shoots him.

Performance History
World premiere
Brader Matthews Theater, Columbia University, New York, New York
May 8, 1946
Monica: Evelyn Keller
Toby: Leo Coleman
Madame Flora (Baba): Claramae Turner
Mrs. Gobineau: Beverly Dame
Mr. Gobineau: Jaques la Rochelle
Mrs. Nolan: Virginia Beeler
{a href=`composers/luening`}Otto Luenin{/a}, conductor
Oliver Smith, stage setting
Gian Carlo Menotti, stage director
Discography Search for recordings of The Medium at Amazon.com

The Medium


Gian Carlo Menotti

The Medium/The Telephone (This set is a rerelease of the original 1949 recordings of The Medium and The Telephone by Columbia, which may have been the first recordings of any American opera in its entirety. This release also includes excerpts from an early recording of Amelia Goes to the Ball)

The Ballet Society/Balaban

2 CD / Pearl 122 (1949)

Gian Carlo Menotti

The Medium

Powers, Schippers

CD / VAI (1951)

Gian Carlo Menotti

The Medium

Bedi, Castle/Rapchak

CD / Cedille 34 (1999)

Gian Carlo Menotti: Monica's Waltz from The Medium


Patrice Michaels

Introducing Patrice Michaels

CD / Cedille 5004 (2000)

Videography Search for videos of The Medium at Amazon.com

Gian Carlo Menotti

The Medium

Powers, Schippers

DVD / VAI (1951)

Bibliography Search for book about The Medium at Amazon.com

Gian Carlo Menotti: "Afraid, am I afraid?" from The Medium


G. Schirmer American Opera Anthology: Mezzo-Soprano

G. Schirmer 2004

Gian Carlo Menotti: Monica's Waltz from The Medium

Gian Carlo Menotti: "The Black Swan" from The Medium


G. Schirmer American Opera Anthology: Soprano

G. Schirmer 2004

Last update: January 1, 2009