GIAN CARLO MENOTTI, Italian-born composer (d. 2007); One of the leading classical composers of the twentieth century, Gian Carlo Menotti not only had a distinguished career, but also achieved acclaim at a time when his open homosexuality could have been a major barrier.
Amazingly prolific and indefatigable, even in his nineties he continued to be a vital presence in the world of classical music. Among his fellow students at Curtis were composers Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Barber. Barber (1910-1981), with whom he was to share a relationship that endured more than thirty years, soon became his life-partner, though Menotti later also had a long personal and professional relationship with the conductor Thomas Schippers. Menotti wrote the libretto for Barber’s most famous opera, Vanessa (1964).
Menotti’s first mature work, the one-act opera buffa, Amelia Goes to the Ball (1936), had its premiere in Philadelphia. It was subsequently staged at the Metropolitan Opera in New York where it received popular and critical acclaim.
Menotti then wrote a series of operas that were staged very successfully on Broadway. The Medium (1945), The Telephone (1946), The Consul (1949), and The Saint of Bleecker Street (1954) established his reputation as the most popular opera composer in America.
He received New York Drama Critics Circle awards and Pulitzer Prizes for The Consul and The Saint of Bleecker Street. Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors was originally written for television and broadcast in 1951. It has since become a Christmas classic, performed all over the world during the Christmas season.