The Italian-born American composer and librettist GIAN CARLO MENOTTI died in Monaco. He is perhaps best known for the classic Christmas opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors” among about two dozen other operas intended to appeal to popular taste. He won the Pulitzer Prize for two of them, The Consul (1950) and The Saint of Bleecker Street (1955). He founded the noted Festival dei due mondi (Festival of the Two Worlds) in 1958 and its American counterpart, Spoleto Festival USA, in 1977.
Menotti was the great love of the composer Samuel Barber. The two met when both were students at the prestigious Curtis Institute. Menotti and Barber instantly found a connection, one which started as a shared passion for similar music styles and drifted slowly into a passionate sexual relationship. Around the campus, their “close relationship” was well known. But this was an artistic institute and few of the other students cared for prejudice. With all minds, eyes and ears focused on music, the boys were able to conduct a blossoming relationship undisturbed.
After leaving the Curtis Institute, the two travelled around Europe and collaborated in music. When war broke out, the couple both managed to avoid active service, Menotti through his Italian nationality, Barber by joining the band of the American Air Corps. After the war was over, the couple bought a large house in New York with the intention of living and writing there together for the rest of their lives. Barber continued to work on choral pieces as well as his symphonies. The two won a Pulitzer Prize for an opera based on music by Barber and libretto by Menotti.
After Barber’s fall into depression the two parted ways. Menotti moved to other successes and eventually married. Barber died of cancer in 1981 in New York City at the age of 70 with the express desire to be buried beside Menotti. Menotti was at his side when Barber died. The grave beside Barber’s lay empty awaiting Menotti. Barber’s will provided that if Menotti chose not to be buried in Oaklands Cemetery (he is buried near his last home in Scotland), a stone should be placed on the empty plot and inscribed with the words “To The Memory Of Two Friends.” The website allmusic.com lists Menotti as Barber’s spouse.