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Pulitzer Prize-Winning Composer Menotti Dies at 95

Pulitzer Prize-winner Gian Carlo Menotti, whose works included a string of operas that played Broadway in the '40s and '50s, has died at the age of 95.  He passed away of in a hospital in Monaco on Thursday, February 1st.

'Gian Carlo Menotti introduced a generation of Americans to opera.  He was one of America's greatest composers," stated Peter Gelb, the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera.  Menotti's Christmas-set opera Amahl and the Night Visitors, often described as the first opera written for television, premiered on NBC in 1951.  Menotti, who was known for work that blended artistry and accessibility, won Pulitzers for The Consul, which opened on Broadway in 1950, and for The Saint of Bleecker Street, which followed in 1954.

Other Menotti operas to play on Broadway included: The Telephone/The Medium (1947 and 1950) and Maria Golovin (1958). He also penned the libretto of Samuel Barber's Vanessa, and revised the libretto of Barber's Antony and Cleopatra.

Born in Cadegliano, Italy in 1911, Menotti was a child prodigy who composed his first opera at 11.   He studied at the Verdi Conservatory in Milan, as well as at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia after moving to the United States (he retained his Italian citizenship but considered himself an Italian-American, according to an Associated Press obituary).  He was granted U.S. citizenship for one day by President Reagan in order to accept his Kennedy Center honor.

Menotti, in addition to writing the music and libretti for his operas, was also a director of opera.  In 1957, he founded the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, as well as Charleston, S.C.'s Spoleto Festival USA, two arts festivals that "sought to bring together fresh creative forces in U.S. and European culture" and featured many noted artists.

'Many composers live in an ivory tower, composing for a small group of aficionados. Here, I'm surrounded by the life of the festival,' he once said of Spoleto. 

Menotti, in later life, maintained homes in Scotland and Monaco.  More than 2,000 people attended his 90th birthday concert, featuring Placido Domingo and Renee Fleming, in Spoleto.


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