TOS Performance - Menotti Double Bill

Posted by asavicz on May 5, 2013

Triangle Opera Studios will present a double bill of short operas by Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti featuring The Old Maid and the Thief, a work composed originally for radio broadcast, and The Medium, Menotti’s first international success.

The performances will be conducted by Al Sturgis, accompanied by pianist Catherine Hamner, staged by Ken Smith with WCPE's Bob Chapman making an appearance as the evening's announcer.

Performances are Friday, June 7 and Saturday, June 8 at 7:00pm with a matinee Sunday, June 9 at 2:00pm.  All performances take place at Weaver Auditorium at the Durham School of the Arts, 400 North Duke Street, downtown Durham. There is no admission charge, but donations to help defray production costs are welcome. Both operas are in English.


The Old Maid and the Thief is an opera in one act set to an English language libretto by the composer. It is a twisted tale of morals and evil womanly power - a quote from the libretto "The devil couldn't do what a woman can - make a thief out of an honest man." Commissioned by NBC in 1939, it was one of the earliest operas composed specifically for radio. The premiere was received with wide enthusiasm by critics across the country. Menotti later adapted the opera slightly so it could be performed on the stage. However, TOS is reverting to the original concept and presenting the opera as a live radio broadcast.

He wrote the libretto initially in Italian, with the intention of translating it into English for its premiere. It was the first of several operas in the English language by the young composer, who was just 28 years old at the time. He was inspired to write the story  after visiting the family of composer Samuel Barber, his partner for many years. He found that what seemed to be a quaint, charming little town actually covered up a plethora of secrets about people and places - many of those secrets not very nice. But while the theme reveals some dirty secrets, the opera is basically a satire of human foibles offering some wildly comical moments.

The Old Maid and the Thief features Kurt Melges as Bob, the alleged thief; Monifa Harris and Kathryn Atkinson alternating as the old maid, Miss Todd; and Kristin Moye and Ariel Reed as her scheming maid, Laetitia. Monica Szabo-Nyeste and Andrea Radford alternate as the nosy neighbor, Miss Pinkerton.


The Medium is a sinister, spooky story of human foibles at their worst. The short two-act opera again features an original libretto by the composer. The frightening and tragic climax to this sordid tale leaves the audience without a hint of a smile or a laugh.  It is a skillfully crafted work, both musically and theatrically, challenging the public to draw their own conclusions about the pasts of the characters on stage. It is Menotti at his very best and established him as a composer of international reputation. Commissioned in 1946 by Columbia University and first performed as a student production, it was soon picked up by professional companies and is performed in theaters around the world. It has been made into several films and at least one major TV production. The tragic, haunted Madame Flora, the medium, is one of the most powerful figures in 20th century opera.

The Medium features Marti Boger, Marie Miller and Stephanie Thurm alternating in the title role with Faith Houck and Caitlin Reyna sharing the role of Monica. Clients of the medium are Shannon French and Jean Jamison as Mrs. Nolan; Ann Forsthoefel and Monica Szabo-Nyeste as Mrs. Gobineau; and Kurt Melges and Bill Moran as Mr. Gobineau.

About Triangle Opera Studios

Triangle Opera Studios (TOS) is a non-rofit organization designed to offer performance opportunities to singers in the Triangle community who show potential to make successful careers as professional performing artists.

TOS seeks to bridge that wide gap between the voice studio and the professional stage for aspiring professionals and offer the public quality opera performances at little or no cost. Our singers are not paid to perform nor are they charged outrageous tuitions to take part in our activities. Participants have only been asked to help defray some of the production costs in return for the opportunity to perform under expert supervision.