Sunday, April 13, 2014

Capital University Conservatory of Music presents Gian Carlo Menotti's The Consul.

April 12, 2014.  Bexley, Ohio.  This review is published at

A magic Saturday evening at the Jewish Community Center.  The Capital University Conservatory of Music presented Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Consul in the JCC Roth/Ressler Theater.

On every page of the score, this difficult opera offers countless challenges for performers.  The music is complex and the libretto can be difficult to understand.

Entering the JCC’s  Roth/Ressler Theater Saturday evening, the thought must have crossed the minds of other members of the audience why such a difficult opera was selected for student performance.
Within five minutes of the opera beginning, I was sold.  This company could handle the difficult score and present a performance to be taken seriously.   And it did.

Saturday evening, the student performers, director and piano accompanists showed their talents and presented a memorable musical event. 

The Capital Conservatory of Music gave its audience a biting satire, perfectly directed and skillfully performed.

The story is an unadorned account of a mother led by a government into frustration, then despair and finally suicide.  In the course of the mother’s dangerous journey through a government bureaucracy, her mother-in-law and infant child die; the child from lack of food and medical attention.  Her husband, an ideological partisan trying to cross a border to a safe haven, is captured and led off by the government’s secret police.

Watching the scenes set in the waiting room of the consul, this satire first recalled to me Joseph Heller’s Catch 22, or Franz Kafka’s The Trial.  Then, more contemporary politics were called to mind:  
immigration and border control issues are still with us.  Considering the plight of the infant who dies in this opera, even the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, and National Security Agency (NSA) intrusions on citizen privacy are foretold in this libretto.

The female lead, Magda Sorel,  was performed flawlessly by  Emily Totedo.  Totedo is a junior vocal performance major and this is her first performance at Capital.

Equally memorable performances were offered by Rachel Marschner as the mother-in-law and Andrew Rene as the partisan husband.

Two sub-casts, the consul’s waiting room sitters and the secret police, added so much to the tone and the tempo of the production.  In the consul’s waiting room Elisabeth Zimmerman, Dylan Woodring, Ali Molnar, Courtney Cunningham and Lauren Stocker accurately presented themselves as characters suffering the indifference of government complexity.   In the secret police squad, Zach Conaway, Jason Crouse, Devon Handler and Craig Juricka  offered accurate performances as the men in shadows who do the things we don’t know about.

One additional performer in the consul’s waiting room needs mention.  Ryan Adams performed as Nika Magadoff, the magician.  His performance had just enough restraint that he avoided  offering farce in the midst of pain and bereavement.  An amazing performance by Adams.  His choreographing of the mesmerized people in the consul’s waiting room is a very memorable scene in the production. 

The sets and costumes were notable.  Two basic sets were created.  One set was a very gray interior of a residential apartment with worn out refrigerator and stove.  Think of the TV sets for The Honeymooners.  When the opera opens with the run-down gray kitchen and tired kitchen appliances, little do you realize that the gas stove is the killing instrument that will end the mother’s life.  The second set is the lobby of the consul’s office.  The sets were the work product of  Christopher Clapp and Edith Watkins.  Set design was by Clapp and Campbell, Inc.  Dramatic red lighting and black shadows provides a third visual effect.  The black shadows and red lighting were designed by Brent Suver and recalled these color combinations  that were so common in the graphic designs of 20th century totalitarian governments that scarred Western history during that century.

The vocal skills of the students were accompanied by Narmina Aliyeva and Ellen Wang; direction was by Mark Baker and conducting the performance was William Boggs.

The Consul was performed Saturday evening April 12, 2014 and as a matinee performance Sunday April 13, 2014.

Contact:   Bexley Public Radio Foundation, WCRX-LP, 102.1 FM, (614) 235-2929.

Published at    

Copyright.  2014.  Bexley Public Radio Foundation.                        

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