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Menotti Still “Retiring” From Spoleto

June 2, 1987

NEW YORK (AP) _ Composer Gian Carlo Menotti keeps insisting he will retire from running the Spoleto festivals he founded here and in Italy, but he keeps taking on festival-related projects.

Menotti will be 76 on July 7, and his contract with the Charleston, S.C., festival runs out in 1989.

″I keep asking them to find somebody,″ he said. ″They don’t seem to want to. It’s foolish of them not to look around. Even if I did want to stay, I might drop dead any time. I think they are looking around, but not seriously. I don’t want to put an end to anything. But it wouldn’t be fair if I don’t.″

Besides some commissions for new operas, Menotti plans to write his memoirs.

He’ll direct ″Parsifal″ at this year’s Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, next month, but is hesitant about bringing it to Spoleto U.S.A. next year because he thinks the theater in Charleston is too big.

How could any theater be too big for a Wagner opera? ″I think of ‘Parsifal’ as a very intimate tragedy, not as a great spectacle,″ he said.

This year’s festival in Charleston, which began May 22 and runs through June 7, includes two operas: Strauss’ ″Salome,″ with Mignon Dunn gamely going on with a broken foot as Herodias; and Rameau’s ″Platee.″ Other music includes Honegger’s ″King David″ by the Spoleto Festival Orchestra and Westminster Choir, chamber concerts and jazz - the Basie Band, Stan Getz and Nancy Wilson.

Theater includes Athol Fugard’s ″The Road to Mecca,″ and the Colla Family Marionettes from Milan, with costumes reproduced from 1895 designs. The Pennsylvania Ballet and Merce Cunningham’s modern-dance troupe are also performing.

As for ″Parsifal,″ which probably will be seen in Charleston next year, Menotti said that Wagner wanted it Mediterranean. ″He wrote part of it in Ravello, Italy. He wrote on the score, ‘A woodland, but not a gloomy one.’

″It’ll be unlike any ‘Parsifal’ you’ve ever seen, for sure, but not because it’s going to be eccentric. I’m trying to realize what I think Wagner imagined when he wrote the opera. Kundry is going to come out almost naked. Parsifal is really going to be tempted.″

The composer has said that ″Parsifal″ would be the final opera by somebody else that he would direct. ″I’m always trying to stage my own. But at the end of ‘Goya,’ Placido Domingo asked me to do him a favor and do one more staging for him - of ‘Tosca’ in Washington. I couldn’t say no.″

Menotti has been commissioned to write an opera to be premiered during the 1988 Olympics. ″And I’ve been most fascinated with my relationship with Bulgaria. Somebody brought a video of ‘Goya’ there and they invited me there. They want me to direct ‘The Consul.’ ... They’ve already made the translation. They’ll do it in Bulgarian.

″They also are very much into making a film of ‘The Consul’ in English. They want Mirella Freni and Nicolai Ghiaurov to be in it. Both said yes. They’ve done quite a few of my operas,″ he said.

″They propose to record all my works in Bulgaria. They’d like to perform ‘Goya’ with Domingo. The European premiere is set for Barcelona in 1989.″

When ″Goya″ had its premiere last fall in Washington, starring Domingo, most critics hated it.

″I don’t want to sound pompous about it but ow my music does not need the critics,″ Menotti said. ″It is there. You like it or don’t like it but I don’t think anybody can kill it.″

The composer is proud of his opera. ″I think it’s a good opera.″ However, he has to repair Act 3.

″When I wrote it, Domingo kept telling me, ‘More music, more music.’ When he started rehearsing, by the time he got to the third act he was so exhausted by all he had to sing he said he can’t do all the third act.″

Menotti had to completely cut the end of the first scene, so it ends abruptly. ″It was a shame; I cut completely one of the better arias in the opera. I have to put it back in and probably make it easier for the tenor,″ he said.

″I feel in most of my operas my melodies have a short breath. In this one, I was able to expand. My lungs are bigger in this opera.″

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