MENOTTI Sebastian

Gian Carlo Menotti (pronounced [dʒan ˈkarlo meˈnɔtːi]; July 7, 1911 – February 1, 2007) was an Italian-American composer and librettist. Although he often referred to himself as an American composer, he kept his Italian citizenship. He wrote the classic Christmas opera Amahl and the Night Visitors, along with over two dozen other operas intended to appeal to popular taste. He won the Pulitzer Prize twice, for The Consul (1950) and for The Saint of Bleecker Street (1955). He founded the noted Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of the Two Worlds) in Spoleto in 1958 and its American counterpart, Spoleto Festival USA, in 1977. In 1986 he commenced a Melbourne Spoleto Festival in Australia, but he withdrew after three years. Menotti died on February 1, 2007, at the age of 95 in a hospital in Monte Carlo, Monaco, where he had a home. He was buried in East Lothian, Scotland.

SEBASTIAN Description by Joseph Stevenson Menotti composed this ballet score to his own libretto in 1944. The choreography of the original production was considered unsuccessful, but with restagings later it became a success. Sebastian is a Moorish slave, secretly in love with a courtesan. She, in her turn, shares love with the Prince of their Italian kingdom. The prince's sisters, desiring to end the affair, steal the courtesan's veil, which allows them to work black magic on her, which they can do with a life-sized wax figure covered with the veil; firing arrows into it will kill her. Sebastian learns of the plot, substitutes himself for the wax figure, and is shot with the arrows. The sacrifice breaks their spell over the courtesan, and she is reunited with her beloved. Menotti's music is ardent and romantic, sort of an Italian Prokofiev in style and sound. It is very listenable, a fine score of its type. There is a suite in seven movements drawn from the score.

 VIDEO: Menotti: Sebastian Suite, conducted by Stokowski (1954) Menotti: Sebastian - Ballet Suite (1944) NBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski Recorded September 28, 1954, in Manhattan Center, New York City. Issued in April 1955 as Side 2 of RCA Victor Red Seal LM-1858 (coupled with Morton Gould's Dance Variations). The recording was actually also made in stereo, but unreleased as such until 1978, when it surfaced as RCA Gold Seal AGL1-2715 (coupled with selections from Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" ballet score). Two different cover designs were used for LM-1858 - the original, of 1955, gives the Gould work top billing, and the reissue cover, from 1958, gives top billing to the Menotti instead. Both are reproduced in this video. My copy of LM-1858 has the revised cover; my thanks to Buster, at Big 10-Inch Record (, for providing me with a scan of the original design. Menotti's "Sebastian" Suite is in seven sections, played without pause: 1. Adagio 2. Barcarolle (at 2:12) 3. Street Fight (at 5:43) 4. Cortège (at 7:08) 5. Sebastian's Dance (at 11:54) 6. The Courtesan's Dance (at 15:10) 7. Pavane (at 19:07)

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