Major Operas | The Consul by Gian Carlo Menotti | Modern Era

Composed: 1949
Premiered: 1950, Philadelphia
Libretto by the composer

Act I

John Sorel has been shot by the secret police at a political meeting. His wife Magda and his mother hide him in their apartment. A secret police agent threatens Magda. John decides to escape abroad. Magda will need a visa to join him. If the window is broken they will know the glass cutter, Assan, has a message from him. Magda joins the others in the waiting room trying to see the consul, including Nika Magadoff, the magician. The secretary makes them fill in endless forms. Still no one can see him.

Act II

Magda is exhausted after weeks at the consulate. Her son is very ill. While she sleeps the mother sings a lullaby. Magda has a nightmare about John and the secretary. The window smashes. The secret police agent hints at a visa as a bribe to betray John’s fellow revolutionaries. She orders him to go. Assan tells her that John is hiding in the mountains, waiting until she has her visa. Not wanting to delay his escape, she says that she has it. Her son has died. The magician promotes his case with tricks and hypnosis. Magda quarrels with the secretary, asking whether the consul exists. She may see him when an important visitor has left. It is the secret police agent. Magda faints.


Assan finds Magda at the consulate and tells her that John is returning. She writes a note to make him stay away and rushes out. John enters and is arrested by the police who have been following him. He asks the secretary to telephone Magda. Magda commits suicide. While the gas takes effect she hallucinates about her companions in the waiting room. As she dies the telephone rings.

Personalities | Gian Carlo Menotti | Modern Era | Opera


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