Menotti, Gian Carlo
|born on||7 July 1911 at 07:20 (= 07:20 AM )|
|Place||Varese, Italy, 45n48, 8e48|
|Timezone||MET h1e (is standard time)|
|Astrology data||14°01' 27°23 Asc. 13°30'|
Italian-American Pulitzer-Prize-winning composer, dramatist and director as well as one of the most often performed composers of operas, renowned for bringing to traditional opera a contemporary feel. He became prominent for such Broadway successes as his fifth opera, "The Medium," performed in 1946, and his sixth, "The Consul," in 1950. These were considered modern classics, as was "The Saint of Bleeker Street, " 1954, and "Amahl and the Night Visitors," 1951, which has become a Christmas favorite. Menotti writes his own librettos, provides his own orchestration, and directs the production of his works. He has also composed ballets, concertos for both piano and violin, and a symphony. He co-founded the "Festival of the Two Worlds," an annual multi-artistic event. His credits include 50 operas and ballets and more than 180 instrumental compositions, giving him a solid base in musical history.
Menotti was the sixth of eight children of Alfonso and Ines Menotti. The family was well-to-do, owing to a coffee exporting firm run by an uncle, but had touches of what was considered "madness" with at least one relative having religious "hallucinations." By all reports, Ines was the dominant parent, making sure her children learned a variety of musical instruments, and Menotti had his first piano lessons at age four. She organized evening chamber musicales so that young Menotti often fell asleep with music in his ears. He began setting verse to music at age five, and wrote his first opera, "The Death of Pierrot," when he was eleven, first performed as a home puppet show. Two years later, he wrote his second childhood opera, "The Little Mermaid," based on the Hans Christen Anderson fairy tale.
In 1924, the family moved to Milan, where his mother enrolled Menotti in the Verdi Conservatory of Music. During his three years in Milan, he saw countless operas performed, and developed a love for reading, with his tastes running to exotic, occult and theatrical works. When Menotti was 17, his dad died and the family's coffee firm collapsed. This changed life radically for him. He went with his mother to Columbia, where she attempted to rescue the portion of the business located there. In the fall of 1928, Ines took her son to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, armed with a letter of recommendation from the legendary Arturo Toscanini to the school's Rosario Scalero, well-known as a professor of composition.
Scalero disciplined Menotti, stressing study and masterwork which was "torture" to Menotti. Nonetheless, he acquired self-reliance and thoroughness in mastering composition. He also began a lifelong friendship with the American composer Samuel Barber, a fellow student. After graduating in 1933, they lived for several years in Austria. Menotti then went about the serious business of his first real opera, and one of the few he wrote in Italian, "Amelia of Ballo." Its English version, "Amelia Goes to the Ball," was premiered in Philadelphia in 1937, with the Italian version presented in Italy a year later. "Amelia" was a success and led to a commission from the National Broadcasting Company for a radio opera. For NBC, he wrote "The Old Maid and the Thief," broadcast in 1939 and later adapted for stage production.
Menotti's first attempt at major opera was "The Island God," which premiered at the Metropolitan Opera on 2/20/1942. The opera focused on a Menotti fascination - the relation between faith and reality. The opera was a failure, one of the worst in the Met's history. After writing a ballet, "Sebastian," in 1939, and his Piano Concerto in A Minor in 1945, Menotti wrote "The Medium" in 1948, a two-act chamber work, focusing on whether skepticism could destroy creative power. "The Medium" premiered at Columbia University in 1948 and had 211 performances on Broadway in 1947 along with "The Telephone." "The Medium" had a movie version in 1951, winning prizes at both the Venice and Cannes film festivals.
Menotti's ballet, "Errand into the Maza" was written for the Martha Graham Company in 1948. Between 1948 and 1955, the composer taught on and off at the Curtis Institute. Following a brief career as a scriptwriter with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in Hollywood, he wrote his first full-length opera, "The Consul," which opened in Philadelphia on 3/01/1950 and moved to Broadway two weeks later, running a total of 269 performances. It won a Drama Critics Circle Award and a Pulitzer Prize.
For NBC, Menotti wrote the one-act television opera, "Amahl and the Night Visitors," the story of a crippled boy miraculously healed after he offers his crutches to the Three Wise Men as a gift for the Infant Jesus. First televised on 12/24/1951, it became an annual Christmas Eve presentation for 13 years. In a survey of American opera companies and other groups covering performances in the late '70s, "Amahl and the Night Visitors" in its stage form, led in number of performances, with 587. "The Medium" was second, with 148.
Menotti won his second Pulitzer Prize for "The Saint of Bleeker Street," first staged on Broadway in the 1954-55 season. Though a commercial failure, the opera was a critical success. In October 1956, in Washington, DC, Menotti premiered "The Unicorn, the Gorgon and the Monticore," a "madrigal fable" about the three ages in the life of an artist.
On 1/26/1958, Menotti provided libretto and stage direction for Samuel Barber's "Vanessa," which premiered at the Metropolitan Opera. Five months later, he created The Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, to bring together known and unknown artists to present music, dance, poetry, drama and other arts. The festival was a cultural and economic success for the town of Spoleto, where Menotti is revered. Also in 1958, Menotti's opera, "Maria Golovin" world premiered at the Brussels World's Fair. The work is one of his favorites, but audiences didn't agree. Received coolly in Brussels, it ran on Broadway in August 1958 for less than a week.
On 3/03/1963, NBC televised Menotti's mini-opera, "Labyrinth." That same year also saw the first performances of "The Death of the Bishop of Brindisi," and "L'Ultimo Selvaggio."
In June 1967, the Hamburg State Opera produced Stravinsky's "The Rake's Progress," with staging by Menotti, which opened at the Metropolitan. In 1968, Menotti wrote incidental music for a production of "Romeo and Juliet," and at Christmas of that year, the Hamburg State Opera produced the first performance of Menotti's one-act children's opera, "Help! Help! The Globolinks!"
In April 1970, "The Leper," the most confessional of Menotti's works, was performed at the Fine Arts Festival of Florida State University in Tallahassee. On 3/7/1971, "The Most Important Man," an opera about racial conflict, premiered at the New York City Opera. In 1973, Menotti composed his Suite Number 62 for two cellos and piano. Four new Menotti works had their world premieres in the summer of 1976: "Landscapes and Remembrances," a cantata; "The Hero," a comedy; "The Egg," his 18th opera; and his first symphony, "The Halcyon." In 1977, he began an American counterpart to the Festival of Two Worlds, in Charleston, South Carolina.
Menotti's first attempt at an historical work of grand opera was "La Loca," written as a 50th birthday present for Beverly Sills and commissioned by the San Diego Opera. It premiered in June 1979 in San Diego. After the work was performed by Sills in New York City beginning on 9/16/1979, critics thought it was inferior Menotti, but brilliant Sills.
In 1984, he received the Kennedy Center Honor for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.
In 1986, he created "Goya," an opera for Placido Domingo. A revised version was unveiled in 1991.
He introduced "Llama de Amor Vivfa," a cantata, on 4/28/1991 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D. C. In that same year, he received the Medal of Honor for Music from the National Arts Club, quipping that, "They have to say I'm a contemporary composer. I'm still alive."
Described as "charming," Menotti is a tall, slender man with an aquiline nose and piercing black eyes. He was considered an intellectual skeptic, gay, with a strong dose of Catholic guilt , an emotional mystic. In 1974 he adopted his companion, adult actor Francis Phelan, as a son; they live in a 16th century mansion near Edinburgh, Scotland. The composer died on February 1, 2007 at Princess Grace Hospital in Monaco. He was 95.
- spousal equivalent relationship with Barber, Samuel (born 9 March 1910)
- Death of Father 1928 (Dad died, life changed)
- Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 20 February 1942 (Premier of "The Island God")
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- Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 24 December 1951 (Debut of Amahl and the Night Visitors)
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- Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 7 March 1971 (Premier of "The Most Important Man")
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- Family : Adopted a child 1974 (Adopted his lover as a son)
- Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 28 April 1991 (Cantata at the Kennedy Center)
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B.C. in hand from Bordoni. (Dr. Arno Muller has a B.C. in hand that reads "7 e minuti zero," a case of Dirty AA data with two civic documents that differ by 20 minutes."
- Traits : Mind : Child prodigy (Wrote first opera at 11)
- Traits : Personality : Mystical
- Family : Childhood : Advantaged (Well-to-do family)
- Family : Childhood : Family large (Eight kids)
- Family : Childhood : Order of birth (Sixth of eight)
- Family : Relationship : Mate - Same sex
- Family : Parenting : Foster, Step, or Adopted Kids (Adopted adult actor)
- Lifestyle : Financial : Gain - Financial success in field
- Lifestyle : Home : Expatriate (Italy and U.S.)
- Lifestyle : Home : Neighborhood (16th century mansion in Scotland)
- Passions : Sexuality : Gay
- Personal : Death : Long life more than 80 yrs (95 years old)
- Vocation : Entertain/Music : Composer/ Arranger
- Vocation : Entertain/Music : Conductor
- Vocation : Entertain/Music : Vocalist/Opera
- Vocation : Writers : Metaphysics/ Parapsychology
- Notable : Awards : Pulitzer prize (1950-1955)
- Notable : Famous : Top 5% of Profession
- Notable : Book Collection : Culture Collection