Menotti, the Italian-American composer and impresario who wrote (among many other works) the first operas ever composed for radio and for television and who founded major international arts festivals on three continents, died on February 1 at age 95.
The program for this special concert includes selections from several of Menotti's most significant works, including the Sebastian Suite and Magda's aria from The Consul, sung by soprano Karen Huffstodt. Also featured will be the Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber, for many years Menotti's life partner. (The Adagio was played at Menotti's funeral in Monaco earlier this year.) Emmanuel Villaume, the festival's Music Director for Opera & Orchestra, will conduct the Ginn Resorts Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra. Speaking will be Joseph Flummerfelt, Spoleto USA's Artistic Director for Choral Activities (who has been involved with the festival for its entire history) and longtime Charleston mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr.
Menotti founded the Spoleto Festival USA in 1976 as the long-envisioned New World counterpart to his Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of Two Worlds) in Spoleto, Italy. He remained the artistic director of the American festival until 1993 (when he departed amid considerable dissension). He created what is now the Melbourne International Arts Festival in 1986.
The 2007 Spoleto Festival USA, which runs from May 25 through June 10, features the U.S. premieres of Gluck's L'êÎle de Merlin (ou Le monde renvers_), Pascal Dusapin's Faustus, the Last Night, Karlheinz Stockhausen's Himmels-T‹r ("Heaven's Gate") and Philip Glass's Book of Longing as well as a new production of Weill's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny and dozens of other performances of chamber, symphonic, choral and contporary music, jazz, drama, ballet and modern dance. For more information, visit www.spoletousa.org.