Opera Philadelphia

Mahagonny & The Medium Synopses

Mahagonny: Ein Songspiel 

There is no dialogue or character development. The songs, considered in order, tell a skeletal story similar to that of the opera Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny. As renowned Weill scholar David Drew writes, "The fleshpots of Mahagonny attract many visitors, but prove disappointing and expensive; God orders the inhabitants to hell, but they revolt, claiming they are there already" (Kurt Weill: A Handbook (U. of California Press, 1987), p. 171).

Song List

I. Mahagonny-Song: ("Auf nach Mahagonny")
Alabama-Song ("Oh, show us the way to the next whisky-bar")
II. Mahagonny-Song ("Wer in Mahagonny blieb")
Benares-Song ("There is no whisky in this town")
III. Mahagonny-Song ("An einem grauen Vormittag")
Finale ("Aber dieses ganze Mahagonny")

Source: The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music

The Medium

Act One
Monica, the daughter of the psychic, Madame Flora, is play-acting with Flora’s assistant, the mute boy Toby. Flora—whom Monica and Toby call “Baba”—arrives and immediately launches into a tirade against Toby, as Monica attempts to restrain her. They all then get ready for their customers: Mr. and Mrs. Gobineau, who are regulars; and Mrs. Nolan, who is new to the séance. All three share the tragedy of a dead child.

The séance begins. Flora begins to moan, and then scream, as Monica, impersonating the daughter of Mrs. Nolan, appears in a faint light and speaks to her. Even as Mr. Gobineau attempts to calm her, Mrs. Nolan becomes more and more agitated, nearly hysterical, as she leaps up towards Monica. As Mrs. Nolan finally returns to her seat in quiet despair, the séance continues with a supposed
communication with the dead son of the Gobineaus. It is again Monica who acts as the two-year-old boy, producing childish giggles.  

Suddenly, Flora gasps and clutches her throat, announcing in terror that someone had touched her. Her clients do not understand her panic, since they believe in the supernatural.

After the three parents leave, Flora becomes more unsettled and begins drinking. She announces to Monica that the séances must end and the money returned to her clients. Then, as she becomes drunker, she turns her wrath to Toby, accusing him of touching her during the séance in order scare her. Monica eventually calms her down, but Baba continues to hear voices, and prays for help.

Act Two
Toby is presenting a puppet show to Monica. She imagines a dialogue between herself and the mute boy, as he declares his love for her and she reciprocates. Suddenly, Flora enters, intoxicated, as Monica runs out of the room. Flora speaks to Toby, at first calmly, asking him how he tricked her. Then, her fury mounting, she whips Toby, but is interrupted by the doorbell. It is the Gobineaus and Mrs. Nolan, arriving for another séance.

Flora tells them she is a fake, and the séances are over. They refuse to believe her, even after Monica demonstrates her voices. Flora tries to force the payments into their hands, but they will not take
it back. As she explodes in a rage, they finally leave in great fright.

Flora, despite Monica’s pleas, throws Toby out of the house. Now alone in the room, Flora continues to hear voices. She is drinking heavily. She passes out, in the midst of a prayer for forgiveness. As she sleeps, Toby sneaks back into the house, but cannot get into Monica’s room. He hides behind the puppet theater. The noise wakens Flora, who is startled and disoriented. She pulls a revolver  out of a drawer and, seeing a moving curtain, asks who is there, but receives no reply. She shoots at the curtain, shouting “I’ve killed the ghost!” Monica enters the room, as Flora is bending over the dead Toby.

MapPerelman Theater

Dates are May 2018.

Thu, May 3 7:30 p.m.
Sat, May 5 2:30 p.m.
Sat, May 5 7:30 p.m.
Sun, May 6 7:30 p.m.

Approximately 90 minutes with no intermission

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