Art’s The Thing!: 224 (1988) | ETV Classics

The tape vault gives us a gift from the past with this 1988 interview with Gian Carlo Menotti,festival founder and artistic director of Spoleto. While Menotti says that he is continuing in his role at Spoleto, he is working on a succession plan to keep the program going. He reflects on the Spoleto Festival and what has been accomplished including the fact that they have reached the point wherein the festival can represent anything and find a very receptive,  adventurous audience, the sort of audience that any general manager would dream of.  His future plans include creating an opera for the opening of the Olympics in South Korea. 

Menotti shares his thoughts about being 77 years of age, his love for his grandchild and of achieving a personal serenity. Program concludes with Paula Robison playing Debussy’s ”Syrinx for Solo Flute” followed by a montage of McKissick’s “Above the Fall Line: Folk Art of the Southern Piedmont” Exhibit. Ilona Royce-Smithkin discusses painting, as well as her third series, “Ilona’s Finishing Touches.” In closing, a Wall St. Dance from Piccolo Spoleto is presented using tap dancers seated in chairs.

Side Notes

  • Menotti’s The Consul received the 1950 Pulitzer Prize in music and was the first operatic composition to be given this distinction. Menotti, who described The Consul not as an opera, but as a “music drama,” wanted to make the work accessible to the wider public. On March 1, 1950, The Consul had its first performance at the Schubert Theatre in Philadelphia before opening two weeks later on Broadway in New York City, running there for nearly 8 months. 
  • In 1951, Menotti wrote his Christmas opera Amahl and the Night Visitors for NBC, which was inspired by Hieronymus Bosch's painting Adoration of the Magi (c. 1485–1500). It was the first opera ever written for television in America, and first aired on Christmas Eve. The opera was such a success that the broadcasting of Amahl and the Night Visitors became an annual Christmas tradition and remains Menotti's most popular work. 
  • Menotti won a second Pulitzer Prize for his opera The Saint of Bleecker Street, which premiered at the Broadway Theatre in 1955. This work was also awarded the Drama Critics' Circle Award for best musical and the New York Music Critics' Circle Award for the best opera. 
  • His last opera for adults, The Wedding Day, premiered in Seoul, South Korea in conjunction with the 1988 Summer Olympics under the baton of Daniel Lipton.
  • Gian Carlo Menotti died at age 95 at the Princess Grace of Monaco Hospital. When the local news website SpoletoOnline reported the maestro's death, it called him "Il duca di Spoleto.”