Gian Carlo Menotti is often named the premiere American opera composer of the 20th century. Born and raised in Italy, his view is the Italian one, that the theater should entertain, and he has dedicated his life to writing and composing operas in genres from comedy to sentiment, from passionate drama to Grand Guignol. (Orrey) However, even his Italian birthmark cannot erase his title as an American composer. His Italian roots and musical heritage, his use of new technology and media to bring alive opera in new ways, and his use of theater-drama have all contributed to his popular success in America and worldwide. Because of this, Menotti has influenced countless composers and won a place at the top of 20th century writers and composers of opera.
[...] Menotti's operas often champion the helpless, and often include an element of miracle or supernatural power. Even from his first operas as a child, these elements have been present. The poor little mermaid who could never communicate or live-out her love for the prince is a subject continually expanded upon throughout Menotti's works. (Wittke) Menotti has often been classified, even criticized as a romantic. From the examples given above, this can be seen as a partial truth. Even Menotti himself admitted to being a romantic even before it became once again a part of the American musical world. [...]
[...] His mysterious ability to combine diverse elements into one single element with dramatic effect as the nucleus is perhaps his primary reason for success in American opera. (Grout) Sources Grout, Donald Jay. (1988) A Short History of Opera. New York: Columbia University Press. Gruen, John. (1978) Menotti: A biography. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. Heintze, James R. (2000) Reflections on American music: the twentieth century and the new millennium: a collection of essays presented in honor of the College Music Society. [...]
[...] He would find no difficulty in composing music for a contemporary Esterházy.” (Wittke) The American Legend “Menotti's success is no rags-to-riches story, but it is in some ways an American success story.” (Wittke) Although not American by birth, Menotti has given perhaps more than any other composer to the development of a 20th century appreciation for and style of music. No modern opera composer has won nearly as much popular acceptance, nor has any had so many different operas performed in so many different houses. [...]
[...] Saffle, Michael Benton. (2000) Perspectives on American music, 1900-1950. New York: Garland. Salzman, Eric. (1967) 20th century music: An introduction. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Teachout, Terry. “Opera USA.” Commentary. Jul/Aug99, Vol Issue p75 Wittke, Paul. (1991) Gian Carlo Menotti: Composer essay. New York: G. Schirmer, Inc. Scores Menotti, Gian Carlo, 1911- The consul. [Piano-vocal score] New York: G. Schirmer Menotti, Gian Carlo, 1911- The medium, tragedy in two acts [Piano-vocal [...]
[...] It is one of the few pieces for which Menotti wrote the libretto in Italian, instead of his usual English, however it was translated and performed in English for it's American debut. (Gruen) It was a greater success that could have been imagined, especially for a genre of music that 20th century America did not revere. One critic wrote this: “There is something here, as it must tearfully be admitted, that has not materialized so far from and American-born composer. [...]
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