Goodbye Mr. Menotti

Opera composer Gian Carlo Menotti passed away on February 1, 2007. A more formal obituary is available via the New York Times.

This is a rather personal passing for me, not because I knew the man but because I have performed his work. I trained as a classical soprano for four years and, if the “real job” ever kicks in, would love to go back to the musical world for further training. At the first formal recital I gave in 2002 (five year anniversary is this month….wow), I sang “Hello! Hello?” from The Telephone. It’s a light, bubbly, fast and amusing piece that is easily appreciated and entertaining to an audience. Picture a “partially annoying/partially gossipy” phone call–in the middle of a classical concert–complete with cellphone and my staged embarrassment picking it up.

Arriving home last night from the theater and seeing the notification flashing up on my email (Thanks to the alert people from MLA-L!), I came to a brief halt in the middle of my day/night… and started singing. I haven’t read through that sheet music in at least three years and yet I got through half the piece before I recalled that it really was nearing 1 a.m. and my upstairs neighbors, while night owls, might not appreciate opera.

The other piece that I was most familiar with from his works was “The unicorn, the gorgon, and the manticore;: Or The three Sundays of a poet. A madrigal fable for chorus, 10 dancers, and 9 instruments”. I first heard a selection of these pieces done when I was in high school and held onto the program from that concert for years because I wanted to go back and hear the music again. If you enjoy madrigal music at all–it’s hysterical!

It is well written, entertaining, powerful music that was completely accessible to the audience. So it saddens me to know that the creator has left us and can give us no more wonderful pieces. I’m grateful to have the pieces he did write—for my private amusement at home and as a memory of my recital.