The acclaimed 1950 film version of Menotti's supernatural thriller starring Marie Powers, Anna Maria Alberghetti, and Leo Coleman.
Filmed in 1951, this must be one of the oldest opera videos in existence. Making allowances for the limited technical resources of that era, it is still one of the best. Composer-librettist Gian Carlo Menotti was also a great operatic stage director, and he commits his work to film with finely detailed, deeply understanding attention. He should have directed more films. The soundtrack, pre-stereo and barely hi-fi, is nonetheless adequate. And the black-and-white cinematography may actually be more suited than color to the dark moods of this spooky verismo masterpiece.
It is a simple story with enormous psychological overtones: Madame Flora, a fraudulent medium, begins to believe her own deceptions and has a nervous breakdown after she feels a cold hand touch her during a séance. Marie Powers fills this complex role brilliantly, assisted by an excellent, well-directed supporting cast. Menotti's operas ran successfully on Broadway. This one shows why. --Joe McLellan