Gian Carlo Menotti Dead at 95

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Gian Carlo Menotti Dead at 95

Post by Ralph » Thu Feb 01, 2007 3:44 pm

Composer Gian Carlo Menotti dies at 95
2/1/2007, 2:41 p.m. ET
The Associated Press

ROME (AP) — Composer Gian Carlo Menotti, the founder of the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, died Thursday at a hospital in Monaco, his son said. He was 95.

"He died pretty peacefully and without any pain. He died in my arms," said Francis Menotti by telephone from Monte Carlo.

The Italian opera composer founded the annual creative arts festival in the Umbrian hilltown of Spoleto in 1957 and 20 years later, a similar undertaking, Spoleto, U.S.A., for Charleston, S.C., followed by one for Melbourne, Australia, in 1986.

Although Menotti's own later works were criticized as shallow, his English-language operas, including the written-for-radio "Amahl and the Night Visitors," have been enthusiastically received by audiences. By 1976, The New York Times called him the most-performed opera composer in the United States.

He won two Pulitzer Prizes for music: in 1950 for "The Consul," and in 1955 for "The Saint of Bleecker Street."

His Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto sought to bring together fresh creative forces in U.S. and European culture. The tradition launched young artists into impressive careers. Shirley Verrett sang her first "Carmen" there; in 1959, Patrice Chereau launched his opera career with a much-praised production of "L'Italiana in Algeri;" and Tennessee Williams' "The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore" premiered in 1962. From Spoleto's stages, dancers such as Paul Taylor and Twyla Tharp went on to shape the direction of contemporary dance.

Menotti said he was on the verge of giving up his direction of the cultural festivals several times — in 1990, he said he wanted to quit the South Carolina event because he was being "treated like the clerk."

He eventually did leave the U.S. festival, in October 1993, after a series of better disagreements with the festival's board about financial and artistic control.

But despite his frequent urges to leave, Menotti seemed always as engaged as ever — even more. "I feel like the sorcerer's apprentice — I've started something and I don't know how to stop it," Menotti said in 1981 in Spoleto.

Menotti, who lived between Monaco and Scotland, returned to the Spoleto festival every year to celebrate his birthday, including this past July.

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Post by Steinway » Thu Feb 01, 2007 6:09 pm

How sad it is to lose this musical giant.

His operas The Consul & the Saint of Bleecker Street would certainly qualify as among the great ones ever composed by an American .

Rest in Peace.

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Post by anasazi » Thu Feb 01, 2007 6:12 pm

My wife was just listening to a piece about Menotti today on NPR. Menotti was apparently lame as a child - like Amahl?

A truely gentle soul and great artist. We never make through Christmas season without a visit from the Night Visitors. It's a shame NBC has never released this on video or DVD, the original broadcast performance.

During his time in school, one of his closest friends, Nino Rota was a classmate. Rota of course also a composer of some operas ("The Florentine Straw Hat") as well symphonic works and film scores (Fellini).

Sad, but maybe not unsurprising news then, as Menotti was I guess 95, yet I feel that the world is a little less rich with talent now.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Fri Feb 02, 2007 1:21 am

I never tumbled to his most popular works. But he earned a spot in my heart forever with "Unigorticore," his madrigal fable, The Unicorn, The Gorgon, and the Manticore. It was my undying pleasure to have seen every performance of it that the National Cathedral put on in 1967 and again in the mid 70s, on the south transept grounds, in the soft early summer evenings.
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Post by pizza » Fri Feb 02, 2007 5:20 am

Does anyone know of a recording of The Old Maid and The Thief? I have a recording of American songs by Dawn Upshaw in which she sings What a curse for a woman is a timid man from the opera, but I can't find a complete recording of the work.

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Post by jserraglio » Fri Feb 02, 2007 11:26 am

Our univ library network lists Mercury SR 90521 (1970) or Turnabout TV 34745 (1979, a reissue of the Mercury?)
both LP vinyl:
  • Image
    Judith Blegen, Margaret Baker, sopranos
    Anna Reynolds, contralto
    John Reardon, tenor
    Orchestra of the Teatro Verdi di Trieste
    Jorge Mester, conductor

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Post by pizza » Sun Feb 04, 2007 2:49 am

Many thanks, jserraglio. The Mercury recording looks extremely interesting and I'll try to track it down. I always liked Mester's conducting and Judith Blegen is a fine soprano. Menotti wrote the satire Help! Help! The Globolinks! especially for her. He also must have thought highly of her singing.

I heard there will be a new recording of The Old Maid and The Thief sometime this year but I don't know any of the details.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Feb 05, 2007 4:03 am

Another of his that I enjoyed hearing in recording, but never saw performed, was The Death of the Bishop of Bindisi, about the Children's Crusade.
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