A Guide to the Tarot Cards of
Step into the eerie realm where the supernatural meets the operatic. In The Medium, Gian Carlo Menotti’s haunting masterpiece, we encounter a tale of seances, mystery, and dark secrets. The tarot offers us a unique lens to peer into the souls of these characters and uncover the secrets lurking within The Medium. But first, for the uninitiated, let’s illuminate what is the mystic art of tarot
The tarot is a centuries-old divination tool, a deck of 78 cards divided into two main categories: the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana, consisting of 22 cards, forms the core and foundation of the tarot deck, while the Minor Arcana comprises the suit cards of Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles. Each card carries unique symbolism and represents aspects of the human experience, ranging from life’s joys to its deepest mysteries.
Menotti’s The Medium explores themes of deception, manipulation, and the blurred line between reality and illusion. The opera centers around Madame Flora, a fraudulent medium, and her entourage of intriguing characters who become entangled in a web of deceit. As we delve into the world of tarot, you’ll discover how these five Major Arcana cards intertwine with our haunting protagonists.
Character: Madame Flora (Baba)
Tarot Card Symbology: Often misunderstood, the Death card in tarot signifies transformation and change, not physical death. It represents the tearing down of old bonds and the birth of new beginnings. The card’s duality embodies destruction and liberation.
Madame Flora, a fraudulent medium, dances on the brink of death and deceit. Her profession constantly brings her face to face with those who’ve experienced the most profound change—loss of loved ones. Madame Flora’s own transformation begins when a supernatural encounter pushes her further down a path of rage and fear, and ultimately forces her to confront the consequences of her actions.
Tarot Card Symbology: The Fool symbolizes spontaneity, innocence, and the willingness to embark on a new journey without fear. It represents a young individual embarking on a journey with naivety, guided by their heart and desires. This card signifies new beginnings but also vulnerability and the potential for manipulation.
As the Medium begins, Monica feels trapped in a life of deceit. Embodying youthful naivety, she escapes into her imaginary worlds. Monica’s lack of control over her own life mirrors the Fool’s journey as she navigates the opera’s unsettling events.
The Hanged Man
Tarot Card Symbology: The Hanged Man signifies sacrifice, trials, and a different perspective. It questions whether one’s stagnant position is by choice and encourages waiting for the right opportunity rather than hasty action.
Toby remains suspended in his life, trapped by Madame Flora’s schemes. His unique perspective on the world sets him apart, and he communicates this through his bond with Monica. Toby’s sacrifice and inability to escape mirror the themes of The Hanged Man.
Characters: Mr. & Mrs. Gobineau
Tarot Card Symbology: The Lovers card represents spirituality, connection, and relationships, often highlighting the need for balance and harmony.
Mr. and Mrs. Gobineau, a married couple exploited by Madame Flora’s schemes for years, have clung to each other and their son’s memory. Their love, though rooted in grief, shows their strength and their unwavering hope to connect with their lost child.
Character: Mrs. Nolan
Tarot Card Symbology: The Moon card signifies illusions, intuition, and hidden truths. It warns against succumbing to fear and anxiety, urging the seeker to uncover concealed forces and let go of negative energies.
Mrs. Nolan, grieving the loss of her daughter, enters the seance with apprehension. She falls prey to illusion and searches to find a glimpse of her daughter through Madame Flora. Her uncertainty and fear mirror the Moon’s themes of hidden truths and illusion.