The Reservoir Spring Hill is the dramatic and spooky backdrop to a rare opera, to be performed as part of Brisbane’s popular Anywhere Festival. Brisbane favourite, Underground Opera and Republic of Song have teamed up to create a spooky opera experience with Menotti’s The Medium.
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The Medium follows Baba, (played by OperaQ’s Louise Dorsman) who leads fake séances for grieving parents. Baba is aided by her dreamy daughter Monica (played by Belladiva’s Jo Willans) and the mute gypsy boy Toby (actor Will Boyd) as they invent vivid experiences for the unsuspecting clients. However, Baba’s sanity begins to unravel when a supernatural presence threatens her. She succumbs to alcoholism and violence as she struggles to discern reality from the supernatural, punishing Monica and Toby as she slides into madness.
Gian Carlo Menotti’s opera, a gem from 1946, was inspired by Menotti’s own experience with a Medium. He attended a séance with friends who believed they were contacting their dead daughter, Doodly, a name retained in the opera. ‘It gradually became clear to me that my hosts, in their pathetic desire to believe, actually saw and heard their dead daughter… It was I, not they, who felt cheated.’
Menotti , Italian-born, studied at Curtis Institute with fellow American music greats Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Barber. His sweeping vocal lines are reminiscent of Puccini, whom he greatly admired, paired with more contemporary musical accompaniment, much like Bernstein’s. The Medium is his best-known serious opera, and with a running time of just under an hour, is a perfect opportunity for new audiences to opera to sample the art. Veteran opera and theatre goers will enjoy the chance to hear a rare offering in an unusual space, especially as the Reservoir’s stage means that the opera will be performed in the round (that is, the audience will be seated on all sides of the stage).
The opera’s director, Jason Ward Kennedy, says that audiences can expect an intimate experience with a spooky atmosphere. “We have highlighted some of the supernatural elements of the opera, and look forward to the atmosphere the Reservoir will bring. It’s an exciting challenge to perform an opera in the round, but the space is amazingly atmospheric and provides a wonderful acoustic. But bring a blanket – the Reservoir’s underground and the opera is chilling!”
The show runs for two nights only, May 16 and 17 @8pm. Tickets $39, bookings at www.anywherefest.com/the-medium