Gian Carlo Menotti

Biography

Born: July 7, 1911; Cadegliano, Italy   Died: February 1, 2007; Monte Carlo, Monaco  
Gian Carlo Menotti was one of the most influential composers of American opera in the twentieth century. He created a large body of work, and seven of his operas and one operatic ballet are secure in the canon of contemporary opera. He wrote all of his own librettos, as well as librettos for Samuel Barber and Lukas Foss. Starting with The Medium in 1946, he directed the premieres of all his operas and went on to become an internationally Read more acclaimed opera director. One of his most substantial achievements was the creation of the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, in 1958, and he later initiated extensions of the festival in Charleston, SC, and Melbourne, Australia. Although he is best known for his operas, his works include ballets, concerti, orchestral, and chamber music and a large body of choral music. Critical opinion of his significance as a composer and librettist is divided; his is credited with single-handedly reviving interest in opera among the American public in the mid-twentieth century, but his work also has detractors, who characterize his music as derivative and sentimental, and his dramaturgy as manipulative. The strengths of his music include the deft psychological illumination of the drama on-stage, transparent orchestration, fluent and idiomatic vocal writing, genuinely expressive recitative, and a gift for memorable melody.

Menotti was born into an affluent family in Cadegliano, Italy, in 1911. His mother Ines was a good musician who often hosted small concerts and recitals at the family villa. Gian Carlo was a musical prodigy, and by the age of 11 he had written an opera (The Death of Pierrot). When he was 14, he entered the Milan Conservatory. At 17, he departed for the United States with his mother, who, with support from family friend Arturo Toscanini, saw to his enrollment at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. There he began composition studies with Rosario Scalero and met composer Samuel Barber, who became his lover and with whom he shared a home for over 40 years. As a student, Menotti spent much of his time with the Barber family in Westchester, PA.

He graduated from Curtis in 1933 and soon began work on his first mature opera: Amelia al Ballo. It was premiered at Curtis in 1937 with such success that it was taken up by the Metropolitan Opera the following year. In 1939, NBC commissioned The Old Maid and the Thief, his first opera in English and the first opera written specifically for radio broadcast.

The only failure of Menotti's early career was The Island God (1942), commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera. During the war years, he wrote his Piano Concerto in F and a full-length ballet Sebastian. His chamber opera The Medium was premiered in May 1946 and had a run of 212 performances on Broadway during the following season, paired with his one-act comedy The Telephone. The Consul (1950), the composer's first full-length opera, considered by many to be his masterpiece, also had a long Broadway run, and it won the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critic's Circle Award. The story, inspired by the plight of individuals trapped in European totalitarian states after the Second World War, was originally intended for a Hollywood film, one of several unproduced scripts the composer wrote for MGM.

NBC commissioned Menotti to write Amahl and the Night Visitors, the first opera created especially for television, for live broadcast on Christmas Eve 1951. It became his most popular work, has received thousands of productions, and is the most frequently performed American opera. He wrote his most ambitious opera, The Saint of Bleecker Street (1954), for Broadway, and it brought him his second New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, his second Pulitzer Prize, and a New York Music Critics' Award. His choral ballet The Unicorn, the Gorgon and the Manticore, which he described as a madrigal fable, received its premiere in 1956. His third full-length opera, Maria Golovin, was written for the 1958 Brussels World's Fair. It had a very brief run on Broadway and has not enjoyed the popularity of his earlier operas.

In 1958, Menotti and conductor Thomas Schippers established the renowned Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. The festival consumed much of his creative energy, and although he wrote 16 more operas and many orchestral and choral works, little of the music he wrote since its founding has had critical or popular success. He stepped down as Spoleto's director in 1967, though he remained its president. In 1977 he established Spoleto USA in Charleston, SC, and served as its director until 1993. He was briefly director of the Rome Opera beginning in 1993. Menotti received the Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement in the arts in 1984, and he was Musical America's Musician of the Year in 1991. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 58 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Focus Cello / Ferrandez, Kloeckner, Kobekina, Moreau
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 14040 Release Date: 06/15/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Gioachino Rossini,  Niccolň Paganini,  Ottorino Respighi  ... 
    Performer:  Edgar Moreau,  Benedict Kloeckner,  Pable Ferrández-Castro,  Anastasia Kobekina
    Conductor:  Heinrich Schiff
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kremerata Baltica
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  • 2.
    Andre Cluytens: The Complete Orchestral & Concerto Recordings
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 562261 Release Date: 06/16/2017   Number of Discs: 65
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Richard Strauss,  Raoul Laparra,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Monique de la Bruchollerie,  Marcelle Meyer,  Zino Francescatti,  Jeanne-Marie Darré  ... 
    Conductor:  André Cluytens
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire,  Le Grand Orchestre Symphonique Columbia,  Orchestre du Theatre National de l'Opera-Comique  ... 
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  • 3.
    Christmas on Stage & Screen / U.S. Air Force Band & Singing Sergeants
    Label: Klavier Records   Catalog: 77047 Release Date: 09/09/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Jerry Herman,  Jule Styne,  Ralph Blane  ... 
    Conductor:  Lowell Graham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  United States Air Force Band,  United States Air Force Singing Sergeants
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  • 4.
    Copland, Menotti: Piano Concertos / Wild, Copland, Mester
    Label: Vanguard   Catalog: 4029 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti,  Aaron Copland
    Performer:  Earl Wild
    Conductor:  Jorge Mester,  Aaron Copland
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Symphony of the Air
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  • 5.
    Little Girl Blue
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 5376 Release Date: 03/31/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti,  Richard Rodgers,  Nina Simone,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Bruno Fontaine,  Sonia Wieder-Atherton,  Laurent Kraif
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  • 6.
    Menotti: The Telephone, Clarinet Trio, Poemetti / Carminati, Forte, Camastra
    Label: Concerto   Catalog: 2087 Release Date: 11/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti
    Performer:  Marco Camastra,  Cinzia Forte,  Stefano Ferrario,  Stefano Ricci  ... 
    Conductor:  Fabrizio Maria Carminati
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bergamo Teatro Donizetti Orchestra
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  • 7.
    The Sternberg Collection, Vol. 2
    Label: Pierian   Catalog: 50 Release Date: 06/25/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Lee Hoiby,  Vittorio Rieti,  Gian Carlo Menotti
    Performer:  Lee Hoiby
    Conductor:  Jonathan Sternberg
    CD: $18.99
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  • 8.
    American Violin Concertos
    Label: Champs Hill Records   Catalog: 43 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti,  Theodore Wiprud,  Samuel Barber
    Performer:  Ittai Shapira
    Conductor:  Neil Thomson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 9.
    Nocturnes / Michael Landrum
    Label: Sono Luminus   Catalog: 92158 Release Date: 08/28/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  John Field,  Frédéric Chopin,  Ottorino Respighi,  Alexander Scriabin  ... 
    Performer:  Michael Landrum
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  • 10.
    Voices of Italian Opera
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 40509 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Vincenzo Bellini,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Gioachino Rossini,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Callas,  Edita Gruberova,  Margherita Carosio,  Francesco Meli  ... 
    Conductor:  Tullio Serafin,  Kurt Eichhorn,  Anatole Fistoulari,  Evelino Pidň  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Munich Radio Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 11.
    Christmas On Stage & Screen / United States Air Force Band & Singing Sergeants
    Label: Altissimo   Catalog: 53492 Release Date: 10/25/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Jerry Herman,  Ralph Blane,  Victor Herbert  ... 
    Conductor:  Lowell Graham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  United States Air Force Band,  United States Air Force Singing Sergeants
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  • 12.
    Menotti: Goya / Domingo, Breedt, Villaume
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 101576 Release Date: 09/27/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti
    Performer:  Andreas Conrad,  Placido Domingo,  Iride Martinez,  Michelle Breedt  ... 
    Conductor:  Emmanuel Villaume
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Menotti: The Saint Of Bleecker Street - Original Broadway Cast Recording
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 91290 Release Date: 07/19/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti
    Performer:  David Aiken,  Gloria Lane,  Gabrielle Ruggiero,  David Poleri  ... 
    Conductor:  Thomas Schippers
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra
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  • 14.
    Amour, Amor, Amore
    Label: Elisabeth Turchi   Catalog: 5637784687 Release Date: 06/07/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  George Frideric Handel,  Giovanni Paisiello,  Franz Lehár  ... 
    Performer:  Elisabeth [Soprano Vocal] Turchi,  Scott Beard
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  • 15.
    Vivace
    Label: Capc   Catalog: 5637735920 Release Date: 02/01/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Franz Liszt,  Frédéric Chopin,  Charlie Albright  ... 
    Performer:  Charlie Albright
    CD: $31.99
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  • 16.
    Sari Biro Legacy: Historic Performances 1944-1972
    Label: Cambria   Catalog: 1174 Release Date: 01/25/2011   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Domenico Scarlatti,  Jean-Philippe Rameau,  Zoltán Kodály  ... 
    Performer:  Sari Biro
    Conductor:  Emanuel Vardi,  Wilhelm Loibner
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    CD: $34.99
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  • 17.
    Menotti: Chamber Works & Songs / Brewer, Tingay, Martin
    Label: Champs Hill Records   Catalog: 6 Release Date: 05/25/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti
    Performer:  Julian Milford,  Marianne Thorsen,  Max Martin,  Christine Brewer  ... 
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  • 18.
    Touch - The Toccata Project / Rorem, Sowerby, Amalong
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1142 Release Date: 11/10/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Vincent Persichetti,  Wallingford Riegger,  Raymond Lewenthal,  Emma Lou Diemer  ... 
    Performer:  Philip Amalong
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  • 19.
    Within A Dream - A Celebration Of The Artistry Of Richard Hickox
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 10568 Release Date: 10/27/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Frank Bridge,  Benjamin Britten,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  James Gilchrist,  Pamela Helen Stephen,  Roderick Williams,  Bruce Martin  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Hickox
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales,  City of London Sinfonia,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 20.
    A Salute To American Music
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 61509 Release Date: 04/22/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Leonard Bernstein,  Aaron Copland,  Stephen Foster  ... 
    Performer:  Leontyne Price,  Frederica Von Stade,  Jerry Hadley,  Tatiana Troyanos  ... 
    Conductor:  James Conlon
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Collegiate Chorale,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
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  • 21.
    Great Operatic Arias - Christine Brewer, Vol 2 / Parry, London PO
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 3159 Release Date: 03/31/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Lehár,  Antonín Dvorák,  Erich Wolfgang Korngold,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Timothy Robinson,  Christine Brewer,  Judith Howarth
    Conductor:  David Parry
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 22.
    Menotti: Amahl & the Night Visitors, My Christmas / Willis
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8669019 Release Date: 11/18/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti
    Performer:  Dean Anthony,  Ike Hawkersmith,  Bart LeFan,  Todd Thomas  ... 
    Conductor:  Alastair Willis,  George Mabry
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nashville Symphony Chorus,  Chicago Symphony Chorus members,  Nashville Symphony Orchestra
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  • 23.
    Cult Opera of the 1970s / Hamburg State Opera
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 101261 Release Date: 10/28/2008   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti,  Alban Berg,  Richard Wagner,  Jacques Offenbach  ... 
    Performer:  William Workman,  Kurt Marschner,  Raymond Wolansky,  Ursula Boese  ... 
    Conductor:  Matthias Kuntzsch,  Bruno Maderna,  Leopold Ludwig,  Marek Janowski  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  North German Radio Children's Chorus,  Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra,  Hamburg State Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 24.
    Prima Voce - Rolando Panerai
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7949 Release Date: 06/10/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Gioachino Rossini,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Rolando Panerai,  Léopold Simoneau,  Margherita Carosio
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Tullio Serafin,  Alceo Galliera,  Nino Sanzogno
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
    CD: $14.99
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  • 25.
    James Adler Plays Syncopated Rhythms
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1014 Release Date: 04/08/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Louis Moreau Gottschalk,  Scott Joplin,  George Antheil,  James Adler  ... 
    Performer:  James Adler
    CD: $16.99
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