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The Consul

musical drama in three acts

Music by Gian Carlo Menotti
Libretto by the composer
About The Consul

The Consul was Menotti's first evening-length opera and is widely considered his best. The leading role of Magda (and its featured aria, "To this we've come") provides an excellent showpiece for the right kind of soprano.

Cast of Characters
John Sorel, bar Magda Sorel, s
The Mother, c Secret Police Agent, b
The Secretary, ms Voice on the Record, s
Mr. Kofner, b-bar The Foreign Woman, s
Anna Gomez, s Vera Boronel, c
The Magician (Nika Magadoff), t Assan, bar
Two Plainclothesmen, actors

John Sorel rushes into his apartment; he has been shot in the leg during a revolutionary meeting. He is hidden by his wife Magda and his mother as the secret police enter chasing him. The police agent threatens Magda, but eventually leaves, and John leaves, giving Magda a signal and telling her to go to the consulate to find help for them. She does; there she, and the other people waiting, are faced with the Secretary, who prevents anyone from seeing the Consul, forcing them to fill out endless paperwork which is never quite correct.

In the apartment, several days later; the Mother is playing with Magda and John's son, who is very ill. Magda, worn down by the days in the Consul's waiting room, has a nightmare about the Secretary; when she awakens, the secret police agent arrives to question her again. The signal is given and one of her husband's friends, Assan the glasscutter, gives Magda a message from John; he is hiding in the mountains. When he leaves, Magda realizes that her baby has died.

At the consulate, the magician Nika Magadoff tries to convince the Secretary that his art should be his passport, performing tricks and finally hypnotizing the other waiters to believe they are dancing at a ball. When the secretary again rebuffs Magda, she asks him if there really is a Consul; the Secretary, shaken, tells her that she may see the consul after his current visitor leaves. Someone comes out of the Consul's office; it is the secret police agent. Magda faints.

Several days later, Assan finds Magda at the consulate and tells her that John is coming back to see her; he has heard that his son and mother have died. Magda gives Assan a note for John, saying it will convince him there is no reason to return. The secretary, locking up after everyone has left, is faced with John Sorel. She tells him he has to leave, but he explains that the secret police have followed him and are waiting outside. Soon they enter, and despite the Secretary's protests John is led off. The secretary tells John she will phone his wife; but as the phone rings in the Sorel apartment, Magda is already dead; she has killed herself with the gas from the oven. The figures of her companions from the waiting room return in a ghastly hallucination as she dies.

Performance History
World premiere
Schubert Theater, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
March 1, 1950
Magda: Patricia Neway
Mother: Marie Powers
New York premiere
Ethel Barrymore Theater, New York, New York
March 15, 1950
Magda: Patricia Neway
Mother: Marie Powers
Secretary: Gloria Lane
John: Cornell MacNeil
Secret Police Agent: Leon Lishner
Lehman Engel, conductor
Discography Search for recordings of The Consul at Amazon.com

Gian Carlo Menotti: "To this we've come" from The Consul


Eileen Farrell

Eileen Farrell Sings Opera Arias & Songs

CD / Testament 1073 (1996)

Gian Carlo Menotti: Mother's Aria from The Consul


Angelika Krichschlager

When Night Falls

CD / Sony 64498 (1999)

Gian Carlo Menotti

The Consul


2 CD / Chandos 9706 (1999)

Gian Carlo Menotti: Wir sind soweit (To this we've come) from The Consul


Inge Borkh

Inge Borkh

2 CD / Gala (2000)

Gian Carlo Menotti

The Consul (Soundtrack to the 1960 television production)

Patricia Neway

2 CD / VAI (1960)

Gian Carlo Menotti

The Consul

Florence May Festival/Schippers

2 CD / Opera D'oro (2003)

Gian Carlo Menotti: Lullaby from The Consul


Nadia Pelle


CD / Chandos (1994)

Gian Carlo Menotti

The Consul

Berkshire Opera Company/Revzen

2 CD / Newport Classics (1998)

Videography Search for videos of The Consul at Amazon.com

Gian Carlo Menotti

The Consul (1960 television production)

Patricia Neway

DVD / VAI (1960)

Bibliography Search for book about The Consul at Amazon.com

Gian Carlo Menotti: Lullaby from The Consul

Gian Carlo Menotti: " Oh, those faces!" from The Consul

Gian Carlo Menotti: "Shall we ever see the end of all this!" from The Consul

Gian Carlo Menotti: "The Empty-handed Traveler" from The Consul


G. Schirmer American Opera Anthology: Mezzo-Soprano

G. Schirmer 2004

Gian Carlo Menotti: The Police Agent's Aria from The Consul


G. Schirmer American Opera Anthology: Baritone/Bass

G. Schirmer 2004

Gian Carlo Menotti: "The Foreign Woman's Aria" from The Consul

Gian Carlo Menotti: "To this we've come" from The Consul


G. Schirmer American Opera Anthology: Soprano

G. Schirmer 2004

Last update: January 1, 2009