The Telephone

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The Telephone is a comic opera in one act with words and music by Gian-Carlo Menotti.

The original text

A very frivolous 30-minute farce, The Telephone presents a fresh look at the eternal love triangle, except the third side is not human but a telephone. Lucy is comfortably draped upon a divan in the shape of a cradle phone as the curtain rises. Beno is involved in an earnest and pleading conversation with her which might just end with a marriage proposal. When the telephone rings and with all the gossiping, Lucy soon forgets about Beno. After the conversation finally ended, Beno tried to resume his composure, but the phone rang once again. The plot becomes repetitive until, in desperation, Beno, slips away to the corner phone booth, calls Lucy and wins her love as the curtain closes.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1952: Performed by Cynthia Coller (Lucy) and Gregorio Fiasconaro (Beno), as part of a programme that the Federation of Music Societies (Eastern Cape) (by arrangement with the University of Cape Town), that also included Puccini's one act opera Sister Angelica, in Port Elizabeth from April 28 till May 1, 1952, in King William's Town on May 3, 1952, in Umtata on May 5, 1952, Queenstown from May 6 – 8, 1952, and Grahamstown on May 10, 1952.

1959: Presented by the South African Opera Federation.

1964: A production toured the Cape Province, with two other one-act operas: Telemann’s Pimpinone and Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s Suzanna’s Secret, conducted by Walter Swanson.


Theatre programme, 1952.

Alexandra Xenia Sabina Mossolow. 2003. The career of South African soprano Nellie du Toit, born 1929. Unpublished Masters thesis. University of Stellenbosch.

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