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Gian Carlo Menotti


1911 - 2007

Composer. Born in Cadegliano-Viconago in Northern Italy, Menotti was the son of a businessman while his mother was a talented musician. His enthusiasm for music came early and he began composing at the age of seven. He had already written two operas when he joined the Verdi Conservatory in Milan in 1923. In 1928 Menotti moved to the USA to continue his musical training at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. Here he met fellow composer Samuel Barber, who was to become his partner for the next fifty years.

He is perhaps best remember for the American classic Christmas opera Amahl and the Night Visitors, the first opera written for television. It was premiered in 1951 and part of seasonal programming many times subsequently. His other works included The Consul (1950) and The Saint of Bleecker Street (1954), both winning Pulitzer Prizes for Music, and more than a dozen other operas. In addition to the thirty operas and operettas of his own, Menotti also wrote the librettos for Samuel Barber's operas Vanessa (1957) and and A Hand of Bridge (1959). He also founded the Festival of the Two Worlds (Festival dei Due Mondi) in Spoleto (Italy) in 1958, followed by the Spoleto Festival US in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1977 and the Melbourne Spoleto Festival in Australia in 1986.

Menotti lived principally in Scotland from 1972 when he bought the late 17th-century Yester House in East Lothian, attracted by the acoustics of its principal room. He helped Elizabeth, Duchess of Hamilton, plan concerts in St. Mary's Collegiate Church in Haddington which attracted performers from across the world.

The most-performed contemporary opera composer of his era, Menotti was awarded the Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement in the arts in 1984.

Menotti died in Monte Carlo and was buried in Yester Kirk in Gifford, while his friend the Duke of Hamilton undertook acrobatic manoeuvres in his plane above the graveyard. He is survived by his adopted son Francis Phelan Menotti.


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