Stage Productions

Sin City Opera makes Gian Carlo Menotti’s original sing

Jacob Coakley

Four stars

The Medium November 8 and 9, 8 p.m., $15. Onyx Theatre, 732-7225.

Sin City Opera’s production of The Medium blurs the line between psychological and occult thriller, yet keeps the internal drama of Gian Carlo Menotti’s opera intact. The story follows unscrupulous fortune-teller Madame Flora, who, with the help of daughter Monica and mute servant boy Toby, cons grieving parents out of money to contact their dead children in the afterlife. The powerful singing, combined with a suspenseful, slinky score, makes for an emotionally affecting evening, with a final twist to cap off the night.

Marcie Ley, Matthew Kirchner and Kim Glover weave tight harmonies as a chorus of grieving parents, with Ley and Glover giving particularly beautiful turns as grieving mothers. As the ingénue Monica, Johnson has a full sound throughout her range, making both the short trills of a baby’s laugh and her second-act aria, “Monica’s Waltz,” well-colored and emotional. As Flora, Stephanie Sadownik has good articulation and menace, delivering a forceful and triumphant “Afraid, Am I Afraid?” They’re all ably supported by the skilled playing of Toby McEvoy (keyboard), Lindsay Johnson (cello) and Bryan Wente (clarinet). 

Director Renato N. Estacio takes the opera into dangerously literal territory, making Toby the incarnation of a demon, possessing those around him, changing the psychological tension of the piece into straight thriller territory. It leads to some confusing staging at points, as he tries to shoehorn the piece to fit the conception, but the tension is still there, whether psychological or supernatural, and the final tableau has a fun jolt

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