Nov 30, 2007

In Memoriam: Beniamino Gigli

La voce che conquisto il mondo
[March 20, 1890 - Nov.30 1957]

1928 Photograph from the BNF archives.

Born on the exact same day as Lauritz Melchior, in Recanati, near Ancona (where he is buried), Beniamino Gigli was the youngest child of a very poor family of 6 children; a very religious man (Padre Pio was his confessor and received huge amounts of money from him), he was also a real playboy with a second life in parallel to the official family (wife Costanza and two children Enzo and Rina) with Lucia Vigarani with whom he had three children. He's also suspected of having had at least 3 other children with 3 other different women. Complete biography here.

One of the greatest tenors of the XXth-century, nicknamed "Caruso secondo" or "Gigli primo", his extraordinary longevity and durability (41 yr career) allowed him a wide repertoire (more than 60 roles as well as sacred music and napolitan songs) with a favorite role as Andrea Chenier (which he sang 11 consecutive years at the MET).

  • Teatro Sociale di Rovigo, La Gioconda, Almicare Ponchielli (Enzo): Oct.15 1914
  • Teatro Carlo Felice di Genova, Manon, Massenet (Des Grieux): 1914, Tullio Serafin conducting
  • Teatro Massimo di Palermo, Mefistofele, Arrigo Boïto (Faust): March 31 1915
  • Teatro San Carlo di Napoli, Mefistofele, Arrigo Boïto (Faust): Dec.26 1915
  • Teatro Costanzi di Roma, Mefistofele, Arrigo Boïto (Faust): Dec.26 1916
  • Teatro Communale di Bologna, La Rondine, Puccini: 1917
  • Liceu Barcelona, Teatro Real Madrid: 1917
  • Teatro alla Scala, Milano, Mefistofele, Arrigo Boïto (Faust): Nov.19 1918, Arturo Toscanini conducting
  • Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires: Lucrezia Borgia, Gaetano Donizetti: July 17 1919

  • Rio de Janeiro: 1919
  • Metropolitan Opera, NYC, Mefistofele, Arrigo Boïto (Faust): Nov.26 1920
  • Staatsoper Berlin, La Bohème, Tosca, Rigoletto: 1924
  • Stockholm, Sweden: 1925
  • Havanna, Cuba: 1926
  • Arena di Verona, Marta, Flotow: Aug.16 1929
  • Wiener Staatsoper: 1929
  • Covent Garden, London, Andrea Chénier, Umberto Giordano: 1930
  • Budapest, Rigoletto: 1930
  • Salzburg Festival: 1936
  • Caïro, Egypt: 1950
  • Japan: 1950
  • South Africa: 1951
  • Finland: 1954

World premieres:
  • Lodoletta, Mascagni (Flammer): April 30 1917, Rome
Other memorable performances:
  • Cavalleria Rusticana (Turiddu), Pietro Mascagni conducting: Naples 1915 & Scala 1940 (YouTube audio extract extract here)
  • Andrea Chenier, USA premiere, MET, March 7 1921
  • La Rondine, Puccini, USA premiere, MET 1928
  • Andrea Chenier, SF premiere, SF Opera, Sept.27 1923
Last performances :
  • 1953: Fedora, Roma, last performance in a full opera
  • May 25, 1955: Constitution Hall, Washington, last concert

Movies apperances (16 total):

YouTube recommended extracts:

Further reading here.
Other fact: the plaza in front of the Rome Opera is called after him.

No comments: