Gian Carlo Menotti was born on July 7, 1911 in Cadegliano-Viconago, Italy, and died February 1, 2007 in Monte Carlo, Monaco. He was an Italian-American composer, librettist, director and playwright who is primarily known for his extraordinary output of 25 operas.
He referred to himself often as an American composer but he kept his Italian citizenship. He is to this day one of the most frequently performed opera composers of the 20th century, and his most popular and successful works were written in the 1940s and 1950s. His greatest influences were Giacomo Puccini and Modest Mussorgsky. Menotti rejected the atonality and aesthetic of the Second Viennese School, further developing the Verismo tradition of opera in the post World War II era.
His music is characterized by its expressive lyricism which carefully sets language to natural rhythms in order to highlight textual meaning and dramatic content. Like Wagner, Menotti wrote the libretto of all his operas. He wrote the classic Christmas opera Amahl and the Night Visitors along with over two dozen other operas with the distinct intention to appeal to popular taste. Many of his operas enjoyed successful runs on Broadway including two Pulitzer Prize winning works The Consul and The Saint of Bleecker Street. While all of his works used English language libretto, three of his operas also had an Italian language libretto penned by the composer. They are Amelia Goes to the Ball, The Island God, and The Last Savage.
Not only a prolific opera composer, Menotti wrote the music for several ballets and numerous choral works, chamber music, orchestral music of varying kinds–including a symphony–and stage plays.
Menotti taught music composition on the faculty of the prestigious Curtis Institute of music from 1948 to 1955. He also served as the Artistic Director of the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma from 1992 to 1994 and directed operas regularly for respected organizations such as the Salzburg Festival and the Vienna State Opera. One of Menotti’s greatest personal triumphs was The Festival of Two Worlds, which he first created in Spoleto, Italy in 1958. A festival devoted to celebrating and encouraging the cultural collaboration between Europe and America, it was to become one of the most successful ventures of its kind. In 1977 it finally embraced fully and literally its name by getting an American counterpart in Charleston, South Carolina. Menotti led the Spoleto Festival USA until 1993 when he took the helm of the Rome Opera. The Spoleto Festival is to this day one of the most significant festivals of its kind.
In the 1970’s, Menotti moved to Scotland where he continued to live on his estate of Yester House with his adopted son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren until his passing in 2007.
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Syracuse Opera programming is made possible with funds from the General Operating Support program, a regrant program of the County of Onondaga with the support of County Executive, J. Ryan McMahon II, and the Onondaga County Legislature, administered by CNY Arts; by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding from the City of Syracuse Arts & Culture Recovery Fund Program, a regrant program of the City of Syracuse administered by CNY Arts; and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.