Menotti's 'The Medium' is something of a cautionary tale, which had its genesis in a séance attended by the composer himself. The plot of the libretto (by Menotti himself) runs as follows:
Living in conditions of near-squalor, Baba poses as a medium with her daughter, Monica, posing as ghosts from the beyond. She takes in Toby, a mute, as a lodger but distrusts him. The business continues until, during a séance, she feels a 'cold hand' tightening about her throat. When her customers return for another session, she tells them that she is a fake and demonstrates her tricks, but her clients protest that she must be real, that it was not Monica's voice they heard. She drives them out and resolves to cast out Toby as well. When Toby returns, she shoots and inadvertently kills him. At the conclusion, she still wonders if it had been Toby. This Libretto is in English only.