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The Menotti interview, with BILL NEWMAN


Bill Newman with Gian Carlo and Francis Menotti.

<< Introduction - Menotti at Spoleto

My love for Gian Carlo Menotti's music was immediate when I heard Amy Shuard sing the lead in The Consul  (1949) at the old Sadler's Wells Theatre back in 1954. It made an indelible impression, as did a rather different portrayal about ten years on at the Rudolf Steiner Theatre under the direction of Erik Chisholm, who died in South Africa. I cannot remember who sang Magda; Menotti, neither, but he remembers it was an Australian production, and she since became famous. I also relished Marie McLaughlin's more recent portrayal for English National Opera.

There was an old Brunswick set slightly abridged with Patricia Neway and Marie Powers that I literally played to death; strange that fans have had to wait until 1996 for the stunning Spoleto Festival recording with Susan Bullock's spine-chilling Magda, magnificently conducted by Richard Hickox for Chandos (CHAN 9706(2)). During my EMI days Amahl and the Night Visitors (1951), written for NBC television, became very popular; it still is in performances in England, Italy and the United States, but somehow the earlier, delicious Amelia al ballo  (1934-7) (now reissued on Testament) and the ballet The Unicorn, the Dragon and the Manticore (1956), both directed by the composer's devoted champion Thomas Schippers- a plaque in his memory is prominently displayed on the outside wall of Menotti's palatial residence overlooking Spoleto - didn't stay quite so long in the catalogue.

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Copyright © 29 August 2000 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK





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