Long Beach Opera Brings Refugee Thriller THE CONSUL to Audiences Starting Saturday

Long Beach Opera (LBO) will bring The Consul, described as a politically charged refugee thriller, to Lawndale this October 14, 20 and 22. Originally presented on Broadway in 1950, The Consul follows Magda Sorel as she pleads for a visa to save her persecuted family, but is faced with an unfeeling consular bureaucracy, where “your name is a number” and “your story is a case,” according to the opera.

With music and libretto by Gian Carlo Menotti (1911-2007), soprano Patricia Racette makes her LBO debut as Magda at the Centinela Valley Center for the Arts. “The Consul” is directed by LBO Artistic Director Andreas Mitisek and conducted by Kristof Van Grysperre, with sets designed by Alan Muroka.

“The Consul” takes audiences to an anonymous European totalitarian state, where the award-winning Menotti has dramatized the despair, risk and loss of immigrants—inspired by his own experience as an American immigrant with Italian citizenship labeled as an “enemy alien” during World War II. Menotti was also inspired by the tragic suicide of Mrs. Sofia Feldy, a 38-year-old Polish immigrant who hung herself after being refused admission to the United States at Ellis Island in 1947.


Photo of initial staging and set design concept courtesy of Long Beach Opera

After its premier in Philadelphia, and opening two weeks later in New York City, “The Consul” went on to win the New York Drama Critics Award for Best Musical Play of 1950 and also earned Menotti a Pulitzer Prize.

“A triumph … an unquestioned and overwhelming success. All rejoiced in this fresh discovery … an opera of eloquence, momentousness, and intensity of expression unequalled by any native composer,” wrote Olin Downes in his opening night review for the New York Times. “Written from the heart, with a blazing sincerity and a passion of human understanding. [‘The Consul’ is] singable, intensely dramatic and poetic by turns, and always of beauty.”

Long Beach Opera has also been promoting the musical play by sharing the personal immigration experiences of several of the actors.

The LBO cast includes Justin Ryan as John Sorel, Audrey Babock as The Secretary, Victoria Livengood as The Mother, Cedrick Berry as the Secret Police Agent, Nathan Granner as The Magician, Zefflin Quinn Hollis as Mr. Kofner, Jamie Chamberlain as The Foreign Woman, Laia Ruyan as Anna Gomez and Kira Dills-DeSurra as Vera Boronel, it was announced.

Performances will take place on Saturday, October 14 at 7:30PM, Friday, October 20 at 8:00PM and Sunday, October 22 at 2:30PM. Tickets range from $49 to $150 and can be purchased online here or by calling the LBO Box Office at (562) 470-7464. For more information, visit LBO’s website here

LBO’s season will continue in 2018 with the David Sylvian, J.S. Bach and Ernst Krenek scored Black Cat in January, based on the well known Edgar Allen Poe story; Stewart Copeland’s The Invention of Morel, a co-commission and co-production with Chicago Opera Theater (COT) in March; and Frank Martin’s The Love Potion – the story of Tristan and Isolde, in May.

The Centinela Valley Center for the Arts is located at 14901 South Inglewood Avenue, Lawndale.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.