Gian Carlo Menotti was born on July 7, 1911 in Cadegliano, in the province of Varese. At the tender age of seven, under the guidance of her mother, he began composing his first songs and, four years later, he wrote the words and music of his first work, “The Death of Pierrot.”
In 1923 he began formally studying at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan, at the suggestion of Arturo Toscanini. After his father’s death, he moved with his mother to the USA, where young Gian Carlo enrolled at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. He completed his musical studies, deepening his role of composer under the guidance of Maestro Rosario Scalero.
His first work in which a certain artistic maturity is expressed, is the comedic opera “Amelia al Ballo”, which had its debut at the Metropolitan of New York in 1937, and was so successful that The National Broadcasting Company commissioned to Menotti to write a work for the radio broadcast: “The Old Maid and the Thief”. In 1944 he wrote both the screenplay and the music for “Sebastian”, his first ballet. He held a Piano Concert in 1945 and then returned to dedicate himself to opera with “The Medium” (1945), followed by “The Telephone” (1947): both garnered prestigious international success.
“The Consul” (1950) won Gian Carlo Menotti his first Pulitzer Prize for the greatest musical work of the year, as well as a cover on Time magazine and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. In 1951, he followed it with “Amahl and the Night Visitors”, perhaps his most famous work given its classic Christmas style, written for NBC. The “Saint of Bleecker Street”, first performed in 1954 at the Broadway Theater in New York, won Menotti his second Pulitzer.
At the end of the 1950s, Menotti limited his prolific composing activity to the creation of the prestigious “Festival dei Due Mondi” of Spoleto (1958), of which he was the undisputed conductor from the beginning. He was a great and devoted supporter of the cultural collaboration between Europe and America. Menotti is the father of the Spoleto Festival, which embraces all the arts, and which became one of the most important European cultural events. The festival literally became “The Two Worlds” in 1977 when Gian Carlo Menotti brought the event to the US for 17 years. Since 1986 it has also held three editions in Melbourne, Australia. In many of the lyric operas scheduled at the Spoleto Festival, Menotti lent his abilities as director, obtaining the unanimous, clamorous consensus of critics and audiences.
Menotti wrote the lyrics of his operas in English, with the exception of “Amelia Goes to the Ball”, “The Island God” and “The Last Savage”, which were originally written in Italian. Among his latest works were “The Singing Child” (1993) and “Goya” (1986), written for Placido Domingo. Other later works include his “Trio for Piano, Violin and Clarinet” (1997), “Jacob’s Prayer”, a cantata for choir and orchestra commissioned by the American Choral Directors Association and which was presented in San Diego, California, in 1997, “Gloria”, written for the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995, “For the Death of Orpheus” (1990) and “Llama de Amor Viva” (1991).
In 1984, Menotti received the Kennedy Center Honor award in recognition for his life spent in support of the arts. From 1992 to 1994 he was Artistic Director of the Opera of Rome.
Until the day of his death in Montecarlo on February 1, 2007, he was the most represented living opera composer in the world.