The Hero
Composer: Gian Carlo Menotti
Composer Bio: Gian Carlo Menotti was born on 7 July 1911, in Cadegliano, Italy. At the age of 7, under the guidance of his mother, he began to compose songs, and four years later he wrote the words and music of his first opera, The Death of Pierrot. In 1923 he began his formal musical training at the Verdi Conservatory in Milan. Following the death of his father, his mother took him to the United States, where he was enrolled at Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music. There he completed his musical studies, working in composition under Rosario Scalero.

His first mature work, the one-act opera buffa, Amelia Goes to the Ball, was premiered in 1937, a success that led to a commission from the National Broadcasting Company to write an opera especially for radio, The Old Maid and the Thief, the first such commission ever given. His first ballet, Sebastian, followed in 1944, and for this he wrote the scenario as well as the score. After the premiere of his Piano Concerto in 1945, Menotti returned to opera with The Medium, shortly joined by The Telephone, both enjoying international success.

The Consul, Menotti's first full-length work, won the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics Circle award as the best musical play of the year in 1954. By far Menotti's best-known work is the Christmas classic Amahl and the Night Visitors, composed for NBC-TV in 1951. This beloved opera celebrated the 50th anniversary of its premiere in 2001, and continues to receive hundreds of performances annually.

Menotti writes the text to all his operas, the original language being English in every case, with the exception of Amelia Goes to the Ball, The Island God, and The Last Savage, which were first set to Italian words. Recent operas include The Singing Child (1993) and Goya (1986), written for Plácido Domingo and given its premiere by The Washington Opera. In the summer of 2004 Domingo reprised the role at Vienna's Theater an der Wien. Menotti's most recent vocal works are Jacob's Prayer (1997), a commission from the American Choral Directors Association, Gloria, written as part of a composite Mass celebrating the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize, For the Death of Orpheus, with a premiere by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra led by Robert Shaw in November 1990, and Llama de Amor Viva, premiered in April 1991. A trio for the Verdehr Trio received its world premiere at the Spoleto Festival on Menotti's 85th birthday in July 1996.

In addition to the numerous operatic works, Menotti has enriched the artistic world with ballets, including Errand into the Maze (in the 2005 repertory of the Martha Graham Dance Company), and The Unicorn, the Gorgon, and the Manticore; Pastorale for Piano and Strings (1934); Poemetti, a suite of piano pieces for children (1937); The Hero (1952), a song on a text by Robert Horan; and Canti della Lontananza, a cycle of seven songs (1967). He also wrote the libretti to Samuel Barber's operas Vanessa and A Hand of Bridge.

1958 saw the opening of Menotti's own festival, the Festival of Two Worlds, in Spoleto, Italy. Devoted to the cultural collaboration of Europe and America in a program embracing all the arts, the Spoleto Festival has gone on to be one of the most popular festivals in Europe. The festival literally became "of two worlds" in 1977 with the founding of Spoleto USA in Charleston, South Carolina, which he led until 1993 when he became Director of the Rome Opera. Well into his 90s he continued to direct opera at Spoleto and elsewhere. His 1996 Spoleto production of Amahl was filmed for commercial release. During the 2005-06 season The Consul will be produced at Teatro Regio in Italy; performances in the 2004-05 season included productions at the Arizona Opera and in Zurich, Switzerland.

In 1984 Menotti was awarded the Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement in the arts. He was chosen the 1991 "Musician of the Year" by Musical America, inaugurating worldwide tributes to the composer in honor of his 80th birthday. His music has been published by G. Schirmer since 1946.
Librettist: Gian Carlo Menotti
Other Artistic Personnel: Eugene Barth (designer)
Christopher Keene (conductor)
Original Cast: Dominic Cossas (David Murphy)
Nancy Shade (Barbara)
Diane Curry (Mildred)
David Griffin (Doctor)
Gary Kendall (Mayor)
Richard Shapp (Guide)
Work Web Site:
Premiere Date: November 01, 1976
Producing Company: Opera Company of Philadelphia
Description: The story of a man who is famous because he has slept for ten years. He awakes just before he is about to break the world record for sleeping and his wife and the town are in a state of panic because they wish to capitalise on his achievement.

Composer Note:
"Is The Hero a political satire? Only slightly so. It is much more, a humorous comment on contemporary society and on its self-satisfaction and greed. It is a spoof of those leaders who, to protect their own interest, choose the mediocre and the expedient, and glorify the innocuous; the man who sleeps, and thus cannot interfere with or bother anybody.

This is an opera celebrating the American sense of humor. It is a gently, good-natured plea for American’s to wake up to reality, to abandon self-congratulatory illusions, to return to their former rugged individualism and to the uncompromising honesty of their ancestors. They should be aware of the danger of letting themselves be led by a sleeping man.

Who is David Murphy? He is the prototype of the “yes” man, achieving by agreeing with everybody’s views, and by turning a blind eye to corruption. In other words, he is the perfect man for a dishonest society. It is on “the man who sleeps” that the people around him feed their selfishness.

Barbara stands not only for David’s conscience, but also for the new courage and honesty of the American youth who dare to challenge the long-standing myths of “success” as a sine qua of respectability, and search instead for self-respect and inner peace.

Being a comic opera, none of the characters are drawn with hate or contempt. Even the trio of villains, Mildred the Doctor, the Mayor, should deserve our sympathy because, after all, they are part of our own weakness."
-Gian Carlo Menotti
Length: Length is not available.
Total Acts: 3
Orchestration: 2 fl, pic, 2 ob, ca, 2 cl, 2 bsn - 4 hrn, 3 tpt, 3 tbn, tba - perc - hp, cel - str
Contact: G. Schirmer, Inc.
Address: 257 Park Avenue South, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10010
E-mail Address:
Phone: 212-254-2100
Publisher Web Site:
330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001
Tel: 212.796.8620 • Fax: 212.796.8621

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