Marble City Opera presents Menotti’s The Telephone and Poulenc’s The Human Voice
Friday and Saturday, October 6 and 7, at 8:00 PM
The Square Room, 4 Market Square in downtown Knoxville
Above: Kathryn Frady in ‘The Human Voice’
Where would we be without modern electronic technology? Of course, I wouldn’t be typing this sentence, nor would you be reading it. Computers and smartphones have become essential gear for the 21st Century. Unfortunately, for all the positives of electronic communication, there are serious negatives.
With smartphones alone, there are millions of accidents each year caused by their inappropriate use—hundreds of thousands of serious injuries and even hundreds of deaths. The problems don’t end with just physical danger; interpersonal relationships with friends and family are often eroded, merely through unthinking actions and inconsiderate behavior.
Of course, the dangers of electronic communication didn’t begin with the cellphone. The telephone, even in its most basic form, has been used and abused since its early days. While the physical device has changed and taken on a myriad of shapes, our use of it as a communication tool has not always been perfect.
This, in fact, is the unspoken premise of Marble City Opera’s production this week—two one-act operas that directly involve the use (or abuse) of the telephone. MCO is offering Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Telephone and Francis Poulenc’s The Human Voice (La voix Humaine).
Menotti’s The Telephone was first performed in New York City in 1947, getting an official Broadway run later that year. The opera’s plot is a comic tangle of telephone usage between two people, Ben and Lucy. In this MCO production, the role of Ben will be sung by Peter Johnson; the role of Lucy will be sung by Julia Metry.
“Ben, bearing a gift, comes to visit Lucy at her apartment; he wants to propose to her before he leaves on a trip. Despite his attempts to get her attention for sufficient time to ask his question, Lucy is occupied with interminable conversations on the telephone. Not wanting to miss his train, Ben leaves without asking Lucy for her hand in marriage. But Ben makes one last attempt: He calls Lucy from a telephone booth outside on the street and makes his proposal. She consents, and the two join in a romantic duet over the phone line, at the end of which Lucy makes sure that Ben remembers her phone number.”
Francis Poulenc’s The Human Voice is a one-act opera composed in 1958, based on the play La voix Humaine by Jean Cocteau. It is a monologue piece in which a woman known only as “Elle” (“she”) has a final telephone conversation with her lover, who now loves another. Soprano and MCO artistic director Kathryn Frady is singing the role of Elle.
The music director for both one-acts is Brandon Coffer.
This Marble City Opera production is being staged at The Square Room (4 Market Square in downtown Knoxville) on Friday and Saturday evenings, October 6 and 7, at 8:00 PM. Tickets and information at the Marble City Opera website.