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Menotti, having lent his name to the creation of Spoleto in 1977, did his best to ruin it every summer during his last years here.
It is high time to acknowledge that he was a terrific drain on the festival as far back as 20 years ago — that, indeed, he did as much harm to Spoleto as Hurricane Hugo, which merely blew the roof off Gaillard Municipal Auditorium.
By 1993, Menotti had removed one Spoleto administration and attempted to remove another, referring to his board of directors as “a nest of vipers.”
He set neighbor against neighbor, milked the festival for some $250,000 every season and threatened to install his spectacularly untalented long-time companion (eventually his adopted son) Francis “Cheep” Phelan as “heir” to his leadership.
Menotti continued to fulminate to anybody who would listen. On the PBS Charlie Rose program in 1994, he called the new administration “incompetent. They are using my leftover, you know,” he said.
“It’s just like selling Gucci bags, you know, imitation Gucci bags around the corner.” He added that he always lived beyond his means. “My philosophy is that as long as I have to travel on the Titanic, I might as well go first class.”