Beniamino Gigli, was an Italian opera singer. The most famous tenor of his generation, he was renowned internationally for the great beauty of his voice and the soundness of his vocal technique. Music critics sometimes took him to task, however, for what was perceived to be the over-emotionalism of his interpretations. Nevertheless, such was Gigli’s talent, he is considered to be one of the very finest tenors in the recorded history of music.
Gigli was born in Recanati, in the Marche, the son of a shoe-maker who loved opera. His brother Lorenzo became a famous Italian painter.
In 1914, he won first prize in an international singing competition in Parma. His operatic debut came on October 15, 1914 when he played Enzo in Amilcare Ponchielli’s La Gioconda in Rovigo, following which he was in great demand.
Gigli made many important debuts in quick succession, and always in Mefistofele: Teatro Massimo di Palermo, Teatro San Carlo di Napoli, Teatro Costanzi di Roma, La Scala, and finally the Metropolitan. Two other great Italian tenors present on the roster of Met singers during the 1920s also happened to be Gigli’s chief contemporary rivals for tenor supremacy in the Italian repertory?namely, Giovanni Martinelli and Giacomo Lauri-Volpi.