Scottish Opera - Menotti: The Telephone - The Scotsman

Written specifically for performance on American television in 1947, Gian Carlo Menotti’s opera miniature The Telephone has a natural place among those online performances supplanting the live experience at this year’s virtual Edinburgh International Festival.

It’s about the scourge of the telephone. Lucy (Soraya Mafi) arrives at Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre bar to meet with boyfriend Ben (Jonathan McGovern) before he heads off on a business trip. He aims to propose, but Lucy’s obsession with her phone - updated to a 21st century smartphone, with texting, Googling and selfies providing additional distractions - prevents the question being popped. Until, that is, he leaves and calls her from the pavement outside, on bended knee.

The piece itself is a musical gem, Menotti’s eclectic neo-classicism softened by a broad lyrical vocabulary, which Mafi shapes with conversational ease against McGovern’s rhapsodic forbearance. Under music director Stuart Stratford the Orchestra of Scottish Opera weaves an effortless soundtrack. Worth an Oscar.

The Scotsman
10 August 2020