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 26-50 of 58 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    Menotti: The Old Maid And The Thief / Victoria Bond, Et Al
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 990 Release Date: 12/11/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti
    Performer:  Lynn Parr Mock,  Nicole Franklin,  Blake Davidson,  Jon Morehouse  ... 
    Conductor:  Victoria Bond
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lone Springs Arts
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  • 27.
    Menotti: Amahl And The Night Visitors / Mciver, Schippers
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4400 Release Date: 10/09/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti
    Performer:  Davis Aiken,  Rosemary Kuhlmann,  Leon Lishner,  Frank Monachino  ... 
    Conductor:  Thomas Schippers
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Symphony of the Air
    DVD: $24.99
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  • 28.
    Wagner, Verdi, Beethoven, Etc / Borkh, Giulini, Welitsch
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 714061 Release Date: 01/30/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Gian Carlo Menotti,  Carl Maria von Weber,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Inge Borkh,  Otto van Rohr,  Otto Wiener,  Christo Bajew  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Rother,  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Jean Fournet,  Hans Müller-Kray  ... 
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  • 29.
    I Wonder As I Wander: Carols For Two Flutes & Piano
    Label: Cd Baby   Catalog: 5637252496 Release Date: 10/31/2006  
    Composer:  Adolphe Adam,  Traditional,  John Henry Hopkins Jr.,  Hector Berlioz  ... 
    Performer:  Maya Lewis,  Anne Carlson,  Alicia Lewis
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  • 30.
    Menotti, Vierne: Masses / Ferris, Gibbons, Fair, Et Al
    Label: Cedille Records   Catalog: 7001 Release Date: 10/31/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti,  Louis Vierne
    Performer:  Tom Sillitti,  John Vorrasi,  Joan Gibbons,  Deborah Fair  ... 
    Conductor:  William Ferris
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Composer Festival Orchestra,  William Ferris Chorale
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  • 31.
    Souvenir - Piatigorsky / Brott, Drachman, Sanders, Randall
    Label: Analekta   Catalog: 23035 Release Date: 10/26/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Grant Beglarian,  Gian Carlo Menotti,  Gregor Piatigorsky
    Performer:  Denis Brott,  Samuel Sanders,  Tony Randall,  Evan Drachman
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  • 32.
    Poulenc: La Voix Humaine; Menotti: The Telephone / Farley
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4374 Release Date: 02/28/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti,  Francis Poulenc
    Performer:  Carole Farley,  Russel Smythe
    Conductor:  José Serebrier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Scottish Chamber Orchestra
    DVD: $38.99
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  • 33.
    Menotti: The Medium / Armenian, Forrester,
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4307 Release Date: 12/21/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti
    Performer:  Gino Quilico,  Maureen Forrester,  Rosemarie Landry
    Conductor:  Raffi Armenian
    DVD: $34.99
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  • 34.
    Menotti: The Consul / Patricia Neway, Chester Ludgin, Et Al
    Label: Vai Audio   Catalog: 1228 Release Date: 03/16/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti
    Performer:  Chester Ludgin,  Patricia Neway,  Evelyn Sachs,  Leon Lishner  ... 
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  • 35.
    Menotti: The Consul / Neway, Ludgin, Et Al
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4266 Release Date: 02/24/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti
    Performer:  Chester Ludgin,  Patricia Neway
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  • 36.
    The Legendary Moscow Recordings 1958 & 1961 / Pollack
    Label: Cambria   Catalog: 1133 Release Date: 11/26/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Niccolň Paganini,  Johannes Brahms,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Daniel Pollack
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  • 37.
    Menotti: The Medium / Schippers, Powers
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4218 Release Date: 06/25/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti
    Conductor:  Thomas Schippers
    DVD: $34.99
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  • 38.
    Menotti: The Saint Of Bleecker Street / Hickox, Et Al
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 9971 Release Date: 04/23/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti
    Performer:  Timothy Richards,  Pamela Helen Stephen,  John Marcus Bindel,  Sandra Zelter  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Hickox
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Spoleto Festival Orchestra,  Spoleto Festival Chorus
    CD: $34.99
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  • 39.
    Menotti: Violin Concerto, Death Of Orpheus, Etc / Hickox
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 9979 Release Date: 02/26/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti
    Performer:  Stephen Roberts,  Billy Hunter,  Julia Melinek,  Jamie MacDougall  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Hickox
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Spoleto Festival Chorus,  Spoleto Festival Orchestra
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  • 40.
    Menotti: The Unicorn, The Gorgon & The Manticore / Koch
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 452 Release Date: 09/25/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti,  R. Murray Schafer,  Jack Gottlieb
    Performer:  Barbara Loehr-Koch,  Rebecca Karpoff,  Lynne McMurtry,  Gary Poster  ... 
    Conductor:  Timothy Koch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Carolina Chamber Chorale
    CD: $16.99
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  • 41.
    Menotti: Apocalypse, Sebastian, Fantasia / Hickox
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 9900 Release Date: 04/24/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti
    Performer:  Raphael Wallfisch
    Conductor:  Richard Hickox
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Spoleto Festival Orchestra
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  • 42.
    Introducting Patrice Michaels
    Label: Cedille Records   Catalog: 5004 Release Date: 09/19/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Dominick Argento,  Arthur Honegger,  Lili Boulanger  ... 
    Performer:  Elliott Golub,  Jeffrey Kust,  Larry Combs,  Elizabeth Buccheri  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rembrandt Chamber Players,  Chicago Baroque Ensemble,  Chicago Opera Theater Ensemble
    CD: $9.99
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  • 43.
    Angelika Kirchschlager - When Night Falls
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 64498 Release Date: 11/02/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Stephen Sondheim,  Richard Rodgers,  Johannes Brahms,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Roger Vignoles,  Angelika Kirchschlager,  John Williams,  Helmut Deutsch  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Metropolitan Ensemble
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  • 44.
    Harp Landscapes - Debussy, Enesco, Koechlin, Menotti, Et Al
    Label: Cypres   Catalog: 1615 Release Date: 04/01/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Louis Vierne,  Albert Roussel,  Charles Koechlin,  George Enescu  ... 
    Performer:  Francette Bartholomée,  Ferenc Bokany
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kleve Quartet,  Trio Medicis
    CD: $18.99
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  • 45.
    Menotti: The Consul / Hickox, Bullock, Spoleto Festival
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 9706 Release Date: 03/23/1999   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti
    Performer:  Giovanna Manci,  Jacalyn Kreitzer,  Louis Otey,  Charles Austin  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Hickox
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Spoleto Festival Orchestra
    CD: $34.99
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  • 46.
    Menotti: The Medium / Rapchak, Castle, Bedi, Chicago Opera
    Label: Cedille Records   Catalog: 34 Release Date: 01/25/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti
    Performer:  Patrice Michaels,  Joyce Castle,  Diane Ragains,  Barbara Landin  ... 
    Conductor:  Lawrence Rapchak
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Opera Theater Ensemble
    CD: $17.99
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  • 47.
    Vocal Masterworks - Regina Resnik - Song Recital
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 60784 Release Date: 11/24/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jean-Philippe Rameau,  Johann Paul A. Martini,  Gian Carlo Menotti,  Gustav Mahler  ... 
    Performer:  Regina Resnik,  Richard Woitach
    Conductor:  Jorge Mester
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Columbia Chamber Ensemble
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 48.
    Romantic Violin Concertos Of The 20th Century / Verdehr
    Label: Crystal   Catalog: 514 Release Date: 07/21/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Gian Carlo Menotti,  Alexander Arutiunian
    Performer:  Walter Verdehr
    Conductor:  Leon Gregorian,  Kirk Trevor
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $15.99
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  • 49.
    Menotti: The Medium - Film Soundtrack / Schippers, Et Al
    Label: Vai Audio   Catalog: 1162 Release Date: 05/19/1998   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti
    Conductor:  Thomas Schippers
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Rome
    CD: $15.99
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  • 50.
    Menotti: Martin's Lie, Five Songs, Etc / Richard Hickox
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 9605 Release Date: 04/21/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti
    Performer:  Malcolm Martineau,  Robin Leggate,  Judith Howarth,  Ben Dixon  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Hickox
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tees Valley Boys' Choir,  Northern Sinfonia
    CD: $18.99
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