“The Medium:” Anything but Mediocre

Peanut wanted to sleep undisturbed last night after dinner so he insisted that I attend a performance of Gian Carlo Menotti’s “The Medium” presented by the Long Beach Camerata Singers’ Chorus Council.   He certainly made a good choice because the performance was remarkable, both from the standpoint of the music as well as the venue.

“The Medium” tells the story of Madam Flora (played by Tiffani Santiago), who holds séances for bereaved people with the assistance of her children, Monica (played by Sarah Goodwin) and the mute adopted boy, Toby (played by Trinidad Cano). Although Madam Flora is a fake, one night she feels hands tighten around her throat and she is subsequently driven mad as she realizes that they were actually the hands of the spirits.

The name of the company that presented the opera is Artists in Operation, formed by Trinidad Cano to give up-and-coming artists performance opportunities beyond the university and the professional stage, both of which are limited, albeit for different reasons. All of the performers are either students or recently graduated, but exhibited a high degree of professionalism, acting ability and sang gloriously.


The two main characters, Madam Flora and Monica, had demanding parts requiring a great deal of power. One very effective scene had Madam Flora mouthing the words of the departed during a séance while Monica sang the part off-stage; the effect was very spooky and unusual.


The mute boy, Toby, never sang a note, but Cano’s acting was excellent and conveyed the character’s thoughts and emotions deftly. The composer wrote Toby’s part in such a way that his sister voiced his thoughts, her hands on his chest, channeling them to us where he was unable to sing or speak.

Annabel Martinez, Jose Zamarripa and Lindsey Gonzalez, the bereaved parents, sang beautifully and had a great emotional impact in their roles, quite extraordinary for such young people to be so believable in roles beyond their age and experience. Finally, the pianist, Scott Farthing, was excellent

The other “character” in the performance was the venue, an elegant and sprawling estate in Virginia Country Club. The Dining Room was used to stage the opera and it was so large that, even with 40 chairs in the round, plenty of space was left in the middle for the singers to perform comfortably. This was a very creative instance of making the arts accessible to the audience: they were only an arm’s length away. The down side of this arrangement was that occasionally the volume was uncomfortable when the action was at its peak.

The evening was produced by Joe Ward and the Long Beach Camerata Singers’ Chorus Council and was hosted by Dr. Marlene Farooq.


Peanut Sez ArtsReach was Great!

Peanut decided that I should go to the ArtsReach conference at the Biltmore last week.  He was certain that I would be inspired  and, by golly, he was right!

As a former Corporate Controller, I am no stranger to financial analysis, and it is refreshing to see Arts Organizations applying these business tools to their operations.  I was particularly interested in a session that discussed the importance of improving retention rates of single ticket buyers, which are traditionally very poor for most organizations.  At the very least, having the information is a starting point for doing a better job.

The conference also had several sessions on Digital Marketing and Social Media.  The resources available for us to communicate with friends and patrons are vastly rich and I am humbled by how profoundly interesting our world is!  Growing up I thought my family was technologically advanced because we had two phone lines and a hold button — and we were!  So here I am, I mean, here Peanut is, writing a blog to give you a peak into the conference experience.

Peanut Sez “Howdy World”

Please allow me to introduce you to Peanut, a little 20 pound Sheltie who looks like an angel but is really a little devil.  He is very cute, loves to cuddle, but really, it’s all about him.  You are only there to adore him or, in the case of this blog, to hear his views.  He will be blogging about Classical Music in Southern California, and will be offering kibbles of wisdom for your edification and amusement.

Observations and anecdotes about classical music in Southern California