The Consul review – Menotti’s clunky opera resists Guildhall’s best efforts

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Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London
A talented team do their best to breathe life into Menotti’s clumsy opera with its B-movie score and nightmarish tale of bureaucracy and secret police

It’s hard to believe now that in the 1950s and 60s Gian Carlo Menotti was perhaps the most widely performed of all living opera composers, especially in the US, where his works seemed to bridge the divide between the opera house and musical theatre. But if it was his Christmas piece for television, Amahl and the Night Visitors, that turned the Italian-American composer into a household name, it had been the score composed immediately before it, The Consul, his first full-length opera, that had confirmed his stature. First performed in 1950, it ran on Broadway for eight months, was performed at La Scala Milan the following year, and secured Menotti the first of his two Pulitzer prizes.

But even before his death 10 years ago at the age of 95, Menotti’s operas had almost vanished from this side of the Atlantic. The Guildhall School’s revival of The Consul was therefore a rare chance to discover – almost 70 years after it was composed – what this music offers. The answer – on this evidence anyway – is not very much at all.

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Source: Opera News from the UK Guardian