Obituary: Terrence McNally Dies at 81 of Coroanvirus

By Francisco Salazar

Playwright and librettist Terrence McNally has died of the Coronavirus at the age of 81.

McNally was born November 3, 1938 in St. Petersburg, Florida and went on to study at Columbia University as a journalism major. After graduation, he moved to Mexico to focus on his writing. He would then go on to become stage manager of the Actors Studio in New York and became one of the most influential playwrights of his generation.

He went on to write such important plays as “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” “Love! Valour! Compassion!,” “Master Class,” “Ragtime,” “The Full Monty,” “Mothers and Sons,” and “The Visit.” He has also wrote a number of films and TV shows.

McNally was very passionate of classical music and opera and from 1979 through 2008 he was a member of the Texaco Opera Quiz panel that fielded questions during the weekly Live from the Met radio broadcasts.

He went on to write Jake Heggie’s “Dead Man Walking,” which made its world premiere at San Francisco Opera in 2000. In 2007, Heggie composed a chamber opera, “Three Decembers,” based on an original text by McNally entitled “Some Christmas Letters (and a Couple of Phone Calls, Too).” His final opera came in October 2015 at the Dallas Opera where “Great Scott” made its world premiere. The opera starred Joyce DiDonato and Frederica von Stade and was directed by Jack O’Brien.

McNally also wrote three plays that focus on opera, entitled “Nights at the Opera,” in March 2010. The pieces included a new play, “Golden Age,” “Master Class,” starring Tyne Daly, and “The Lisbon Traviata,” starring John Glover and Malcolm Gets. The plays were played at the Kennedy Center.

McNally won numerous Tony Awards including a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2019.