This past March, a group of young opera singers gathered together in the beautiful Italian City of Modena to work under the auspices of Modena Bel Canto ( and with the tutelage of the great Bulgarian soprano Raina Kabaivanska.

As a product of several intensive weeks of work they recorded two chamber operas of Gian Carlo Menotti: The Telephone and The Medium.

It is with delight that one welcomes this Brilliant Classics recording featuring a cast of gifted early-career singers, with Flavio Emilio Scogna helming the Orchestra Filarmonica Italiana and Giovanni Caruso is the singer-sympathetic engineer.

A resolute melodist with a modernist bent but a confirmed believer in tonality, Menotti endured for the best part of his career the scorn of the dodecaphonic camp and the disdain of critics, while regardless being all along one of the most audience-friendly and successful composers of operas between 1936 and the early 1950’s.

Changing tastes replaced his with lesser works of dubious merit and a shorter shelf life, but his early operas, including both The Telephone and The Medium (first given in 1946) and the larger-scale The Consul (1950) continue to be produced on the stages of music conservatories and regional opera companies in America.

In the role of Madame Flora, the Latvian mezzo-soprano Julija Samsonova-Khayet delivers a vocally and dramatically powerful performance that shows the potential of a major career. Marily Santoro is a lovely Monica, and in The Telephone, Elizabeth Hertzberg and Lorenzo Grante are a charming Lucy and Ben.

Wonder what’s next in store for these young artists…

Rafael de Acha

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