A Menotti opera, from radio to the stage

Gian Carlo Menotti

On May 3 and 4, Yale Opera will stage Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief as part of a double bill in Morse Recital Hall. Menotti, who emigrated from Italy to the United States as a teenager in the 1920s, was among the first great composers of American opera. His operas, which set English libretti in a compositional style appealing to popular taste, found popularity across wide audiences. Many of his operas were produced to great acclaim on the Broadway stage. In addition to successful stage productions, Menotti was a pioneer of using the technology of the day to present his work. He is perhaps most famous for his Christmas opera Amahl and the Night Visitors, whose 1951 premiere introduced audiences to the first opera composed specifically for television. But even before the rise of televised operas, Menotti burst onto the popular operatic scene with The Old Maid and the Thief, composed at the height of popularity of the radio opera. In the late 1930s, having finished his studies at The Curtis Institute of Music and on the heels of the success of his first opera, Amelia al Ballo, Menotti was approached by NBC to compose an opera to be broadcast on the radio. The Old Maid and the Thief premiered on April 22, 1939, and was so well received by radio audiences that Menotti adapted it for the stage two years later.

The opera, a performance of which lasts about an hour, is organized in 14 short scenes. It has only four roles: Miss Todd, the spinster or old maid (mezzo-soprano); Laetitia, Miss Todd’s maid (soprano); Bob, the mysterious traveler (baritone); and Miss Pinkerton, Miss Todd’s gossipy neighbor (soprano). The plot explores the ambiguous morals and suspicious activity behind the seemingly sweet façade of a sleepy, small town. Menotti says, in the libretto, “The devil couldn’t do what a woman can—make a thief out of an honest man.”

Menotti (1911-2007) was an Italian-American composer and librettist. He is most well known for his numerous operas, for which he wrote his own libretti. He won two Pulitzer Prizes, one for his 1950 opera The Consul, and another for his 1955 opera The Saint of Bleecker Street. Menotti founded the Spoleto festivals in Spoleto, Italy, and in Charleston, South Carolina. His longtime romantic and professional partner was American composer Samuel Barber (1910-1981).

Yale Opera’s spring production pairs a fully staged version of Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief with Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol, directed by Dustin Wills, with music direction by Douglas Dickson and Timothy Shaindlin. Performed with piano accompaniment in the intimate Morse Recital Hall, this double bill showcases the ascendant young artists in the Yale Opera program.

Yale Opera presents Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief and Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol on May 3 & 4, at 7:30 p.m., in Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Memorial Hall. 

DETAILS & TICKETS

Published April 29, 2019
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Paweł Konik reaches finals of “Le Grand Prix de l’Opéra”

Paweł Konik | Photo by Anna Płóciennik

Paweł Konik | Photo by Anna Płóciennik

Earlier this month, bass-baritone Paweł Konik reached the final round of “Le Grand Prix de l’Opéra,” the International Voice Competition organized by the Bucharest National Opera. Konik earned a special Excellency Prize, presented by the Russian Embassy, for his interpretation of “Aleko’s Cavatina” from Rachmaninoff’s Aleko. He also performed “Vedro mentr’io sospiro” from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro and “O du mein holder Abendstern” from Wagner’s Tannhäuser.

Konik, a native of Poland, is a member of the Yale Opera program, where he studies with Doris Yarick-Cross and Richard Cross. Konik also worked on his competition repertoire with YSM faculty members Douglas Dickson, Timothy Shaindlin, and Kyle Swann. During the 2015-2016 concert season, Konik appeared in Yale Opera productions of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Massenet’s Don Quichotte. Prior to coming to Yale, Konik attended the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice. MORE

Published August 24, 2016
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[ concerts + events ]

Yale Opera presents its annual Fall Scenes November 7 & 8

Photo by Matt Fried

Photo by Matt Fried

The Yale Opera program at the Yale School of Music presents its annual Fall Opera Scenes on Saturday, November 7 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, November 8 at 2:00 pm. Each performance features a different selection of scenes from diverse operas.

A favorite of local audiences, the annual Fall Opera Scenes production will showcase the voice students of the highly selective Yale Opera program, which is directed by Doris Yarick-Cross.

This autumn’s production will also feature the work of stage director Marc Verzatt and musical directors Douglas Dickson and Timothy Shaindlin. John Carver Sullivan provides costume design, and Doug Harry is the lighting designer. MORE

Published October 13, 2015
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Yale Opera performs Tchaikovsky rarity May 3–4

Michael Gieleta directs, Timothy Shaindlin is musical director

The Yale Opera program at the Yale School of Music presents Tchaikovsky’s one-act opera Iolanta on Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4 at 8 pm. The “richly melodious opera” (New York Times) was a great success upon its premiere; its fairytale plot features a blind princess growing up in an enclosed garden and, through the illumination of love, regaining her sight.

The production will be directed by Michael Gieleta, the artistic director of the Cherub Company who works in both theater and opera. Timothy Shaindlin, whose expertise is well-known to Yale Opera devotees, will be the musical director.

Iolanta was Tchaikovsky’s last opera; it premiered in 1892, less than a year before the composer’s death at age 53, and has become “unfairly obscure” (Boston Globe). This lyrical, one-act masterpiece runs approximately ninety minutes.

Performances will take place at Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Hall (470 College St., corner of Wall Street). The singers are all students in the prestigious Yale Opera program, which is directed by Doris Yarick-Cross. Casting will be announced shortly.

Both performances take place at 8 pm. Tickets are $10–15, $5 with student ID. For more information or to purchase tickets, call the Yale School of Music concert office at 203 432-4158 or visit music.yale.edu. Tickets can also be purchased on Facebook; join the event here. MORE

Published April 1, 2013
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Yale Opera announces two new productions for 2012

Speranza Scappucci will be the first woman to conduct a Yale Opera production

The Yale Opera program at the Yale School of Music has announced two new productions for the spring semester of 2012. February will feature Mozart’s comedy Così fan tutte at New Haven’s historic Shubert Theater. In April, Yale Opera will perform Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia in Morse Recital Hall.

Speranza Scappucci will conduct Così fan tutte, becoming the first woman to conduct a Yale Opera production. Maestra Scappucci is on the roster of the Metropolitan Opera as an assistant conductor and is active internationally as a vocal coach and continuo harpsichordist.

The young Australian director Justin Way, praised for his “creative energy” and “clever and sympathetic” work, will provide stage direction. The production will feature the Philharmonia Orchestra of Yale, the School of Music’s premier ensemble.

Così fan tutte will be sung in Italian with projected English translations. Performances take place February 10–12 at the Shubert Theater (247 College Street). The Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 pm; the Sunday performance is at 2 pm. Tickets are available at the Shubert Theater box office, online at www.shubert.com, or by phone at 203 562-5666.

Yale Opera’s new production of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia will feature stage direction by Vera Calabria, who has worked with some of the world’s most prestigious opera houses and now also works frequently with young singers as director and dramatic coach. Douglas Dickson and Timothy Shaindlin will provide musical direction.

The Rape of Lucretia will be performed Friday and Saturday, April 27 and 28. Both performances take place at 8 pm in Morse Recital Hall, located in Sprague Hall at 470 College Street (corner of Wall Street), New Haven. Tickets are available through the Yale School of Music box office in Sprague Hall, 203 432-4158, or music.yale.edu.

Published November 10, 2011
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Yale Opera performs scenes from Bellini to Berlioz

Marc Verzatt directs performances Oct. 28 & 29

The Yale School of Music presents the singers of Yale Opera in two evenings of opera scenes on Friday and Saturday, October 28 and 29. Each evening will feature a different selection of scenes from popular operas by composers as diverse as Handel, Gounod, Puccini, and more. Both performances will take place at 7:30 pm in Morse Recital Hall, located in Sprague Hall (470 College Street, corner of Wall Street).

A favorite of local audiences, the annual Fall Opera Scenes production showcases the creative talents of artistic director Doris Yarick Cross and stage director Marc Verzatt. This autumn’s production will also feature visual projections designed by students in the Yale School of Drama’s program in projection design. The projection program is directed by Wendall K. Harrington, and here each scene will incorporate the work of a different design student.

The creative team also includes costume designer John Carver Sullivan, lighting designer William Warfel, and musical directors Douglas Dickson and Timothy Shaindlin. The singers are all students in the renowned Yale Opera program.

Each performance incorporates both the comic and the tragic, including a little bit of Shakespeare. Friday, Oct. 28 will feature scenes from Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, Berlioz’s Les Troyens, and Verdi’s La Traviata. The program on Saturday, Oct. 29 will feature excerpts from Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Handel’s Giulio Cesare, Bellini’s I Puritani, Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, and Puccini’s La Bohème. MORE

Published October 7, 2011
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Rising stars of Yale Opera offer two evenings of opera scenes in Sprague Hall October 29 and 30

Scene from Yale Opera's production of Le Rossignol last April in Sprague Hall.

The Yale School of Music will present the up-and-coming singers of Yale Opera in two evenings of selected opera scenes. The annual Fall Opera Scenes production is an audience favorite, bringing together the creative talents of artistic director Doris Yarick Cross and stage director Marc Verzatt. In addition, this October’s production will feature the work of costume designer John Carver Sullivan, lighting designer William Warfel, and musical directors Douglas Dickson and Timothy Shaindlin.

Each evening offers a different program, though both lean toward the tragic more than the comic. Friday, October 29 will feature scenes from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Verdi’s La traviata and Falstaff, and Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men. Scenes on Saturday, October 30 are selected from Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito, Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, and Gounod’s Faust. The performances begin at 7:30 in Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Hall, 470 College Street (corner of Wall Street) in New Haven.

The singers, all students in the renowned Yale Opera program, include Jorge Prego, Eric Barry, Andrew Brown, Jennifer Feinstein, Stephanie Gilbert, Alexander Hahn, Jihee Kim, Samuel Levine, Cameron McPhail, Lorant Najbauer, David Pershall, Annie Rosen, and Lisa Williamson. MORE

Published October 5, 2010
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Yale Opera’s Liederabend offers an evening of French song

Rising opera stars perform art songs by Bizet, Poulenc, Fauré, Saint-Saëns, and more

The Yale School of Music presents the rising stars of Yale Opera in an evening of French song on Monday, May 3, 2010 at 8 pm in Sprague Hall. The performance continues Yale Opera’s tradition of Liederabend, evenings of art songs focusing on a single country or language. This France-inspired concert will include music by Bizet, Poulenc, Saint-Saëns, Fauré, Duparc, and Debussy. Pianists Timothy Shaindlin and Kyle Swann will provide musical direction and accompaniment. Doris Yarick-Cross is the artistic director of Yale Opera.

The Liederabend (German for “evening of song”) will take place in Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Memorial Hall (470 College Street, New Haven). Admission is free. For more information, visit the Yale School of Music’s website or call 203 432-4158. MORE

Published April 21, 2010
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