Music: Living Children

Gian Carlo Menotti scribbled away at arias and orchestrations right up to the final dress rehearsal. So did the copyists. Despite the furious round-the-clock push, the official first night of The Most Important Man at the New York City Opera had to be set back six days. Said a weary Menotti: "It will kill me one day. I'll have a heart attack, I know it."

All the activity, including the fatalistic rhetoric, is by and large a familiar libretto at any Menotti premiere. For he is the owner of one of the most monumental...

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