Beniamino Gigli

(1890—1957) Italian operatic tenor

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Italian tenor, often regarded as the natural successor to Enrico Carusoe.

He was born in Recanati near Ancona. Poverty and lack of schooling made his early life hard and frustrating, but he eventually won a scholarship to the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome, where he studied singing with Enrico Rosati. In 1914 he won first prize in an international singing competition in Parma and later in the year made his debut at Rovigo as Enzo in Ponchielli's La Gioconda. The following year he sang Faust in Boito's Mefistofele to great acclaim in both Bologna and Naples. He also sang this role again under Toscanini at La Scala in 1918 and later that year at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, where he was engaged from 1920 to 1932 and again from 1938 to 1939. He sang frequently at Covent Garden in these periods and appeared there again in 1946 opposite his daughter Rina in Puccini's La Bohème.

Although his acting was rudimentary, Gigli's sumptuous voice earned him a fortune and in 1928 he built himself a palatial home outside his native town. His technique was as secure at sixty as it had been during his prime; he fortunately made many records of his most memorable roles.

Subjects: Opera.

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