Make us your home page

St. Petersburg Opera presents 'The Medium'


Times Performing Arts Critic

Many people unfamiliar with opera know the work of Gian Carlo Menotti because he composed Amahl and the Night Visitors, which debuted on Christmas Eve 1951 in an NBC broadcast and became a seasonal staple on TV and in stage productions. Menotti wrote other operas — as well as founded the Spoleto arts festival in Charleston, S.C. — and now St. Petersburg Opera is presenting one of them, The Medium.

"It's a fascinating piece," said Mark Sforzini, artistic director of the opera who is both conducting the 14-musician orchestra and stage directing for two performances this weekend at the Palladium Theater. "It has six people in the cast. No chorus. It's short and a reduced story."

Menotti's one-act opera, which runs just over an hour, is what the composer described as "a play of ideas (that) describes the tragedy of a woman caught between two worlds, a word of reality which she cannot comprehend and a supernatural world in which she cannot believe."

Mezzo-soprano Melissa Misener plays a fraudulent psychic named Madame Flora, or "Baba," and soprano Stefanie Izzo is her daughter, Monica. "Baba makes money by having these fake seances, and her daughter helps to rig them," Sforzini said. "It's a great thing to watch on stage with a seance built into the opera with voices coming from the other side."

In the other roles, Chris Romeo plays Toby, a mute servant taken in by Baba, Rim Karnavicius and Michelle Rego are the regular clients Mr. and Mrs. Gobineau (the singers are husband and wife in real life), and Mindy Mabry is Mrs. Nolan, a widow seeking to make contact with her dead daughter.

Monica has the opera's best-known aria, The Black Swan, a kind of occult lullaby sung to soothe her mother. "Monica also sings a waltz about the love between her and Toby, and Madame Flora, who is an alcoholic, has a mad scene, Afraid, am I afraid, which is a six-minute tour de force," Sforzini said.

The Medium is the opera company's first production pegged to the annual Gay Pride celebration in St. Petersburg. The connection is that Menotti, who died in 2007, was gay, as more than a few other opera and musical theater composers have been, such as Benjamin Britten, Samuel Barber (Menotti's partner), Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim.

"The Pride festival brings in something like 100,000 people, and we like the idea of coordinating with it," Sforzini said. "We're starting out on a smaller scale with The Medium, but next year we'll have a big production of West Side Story. The Britten operas, like A Midsummer Night's Dream and Albert Herring, are especially appealing to me."

John Fleming can be reached at or (727) 893-8716.


The Medium

St. Petersburg Opera performs the opera by Gian Carlo Menotti at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Palladium Theater, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $20-$50. (727) 823-2040;

St. Petersburg Opera presents 'The Medium' 06/26/13 [Last modified: Thursday, June 27, 2013 12:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 24


    Zac Brown Band: The country, folk and Southern rockers embark on the "Welcome Home" tour in support of the album. 7 p.m., MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $27.50-$77.50. (813) 740-2446.

    Handout photo of the Zac Brown Band, performing at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on 9/24/17. Credit: Shore Fire Media
  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 23


    Smithsonian Museum Day Live: Museums across the nation partner with the Smithsonian to offer free admission for one day. Among them are Florida Holocaust Museum, Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs.Cracker Country in Tampa, Ringling Museum of Art. Note: Dalí Museum is free for Pinellas County …

    The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg is among the museums participating in the Smithsonian's Museum Day Live, offering free admission. (LANCE ROTHSTEIN   |  Special to the Times)
  3. Tampa Repertory's 'Flying' soars in some places, sputters in others


    TAMPA — Tampa Repertory Theatre has always insisted on putting on plays that mean something. Several shows over the last couple of years have zeroed in on the social and cultural baggage that comes with being female (The Children's Hour, Silent Sky and Grounded come to mind). None of those …

    The Southeastern premiere of Flying, Sheila Cowley's play at Tampa Repertory Theatre about veterans of the Women's Air Force Service Pilots, includes (from left) Holly Marie Weber, Rosemary Orlando, and Becca McCoy. Photo by Megan Lamasney.
  4. After 22 years, it's last call for beloved Ybor venue New World Brewery

    Music & Concerts

    YBOR CITY — Steve Bird spreads his tools across a patio table. He has awnings to unbolt and paraphernalia to unpry, from the busted Bop City neon by the stage to the Simpsons "El Duffo o Muerte" mural in the courtyard. He'll uproot a fountain and dismantle a roof and attempt to keep his bar intact. The …

    Various decor and memorabilia fill the walls and shelves at New World Brewery in Ybor City.
Long time music venue and hangout New World Brewery in Ybor City will be closing it's doors and moving locations. Patrons enjoy one of the last events before New World Brewery changes its location to Busch Blvd in Tampa.  [Photo Luis Santana | Times]