Two Italian Tenors, 2023
This Week in Classical Music: April 3, 2023. Two Italian Tenors. Solely certainly one of these singers has an anniversary this week, and that’s Franco Corelli, who was born on April 9th of 1921 in Ancona. One other tenor is Beniamino Gigli, whose title we talked about a number of weeks in the past once we have been celebrating the birthday of the nice Enrico Caruso. We promised then to put in writing about Gigli, in all probability second solely to Caruso amongst tenors of the primary half of the 20th century. Gigli was born on March 20th of 1890, however with Bach and Rachmaninov’s a hundred and fiftieth anniversaries intervening, that is the earliest we may get to Gigli.
Forty years separate Gigli from Corelli; that hole affected their legacies in some ways, however two of them are crucial: one is know-how, the opposite – politics. Gigli made a lot of information, however the recording know-how of his time was moderately poor, and the sound high quality of his shellac information can not examine with those made by Corelli. Subsequently, we hardly ever can hear the tone high quality for which Gigli was well-known. And politics is the second essential issue: Gigli lived in the course of the fascist years of Mussolini’s reign, and as was the case with many German, Soviet, and Italian musicians of the time, he compromised himself politically and ethically.
Beniamino Gigli was born in Recanati, a small city not removed from Ancona on the Adriatic facet of Italy. In 1914 he gained a contest in Parma, and later that 12 months made a profitable début in Ponchielli’s La Gioconda. His profession took off nearly instantly, and he was invited to sing in all main opera theaters of Italy, from San Carlo in Naples to La Scala in Milan. In 1917 he sang in Spain and in 1920 made a extremely profitable debut in New York on the Met. He stayed within the US for the following 12 years, turning into, after Caruso’s demise in 1921, the Met’s hottest tenor, although the opera’s roster additionally included such singers as Giacomo Lauri-Volpi and Giovanni Martinelli. Although the general public referred to as Gigli “Caruso Secondo,” the comparability shouldn’t be truthful: Caruso’s voice was greater and darker than Gigli’s, whereas Gigli’s was “sweeter” and doubtless naturally extra lovely. In 1932, after refusing a pay lower, Gigli left the Met and returned to Italy. He grew to become Mussolini’s favourite singer, which in itself, in fact, shouldn’t be a sin. Sadly, Gigli went a lot additional: in 1937 he recorded the official hymn of the Italian fascist occasion, Giovinezza; in 1942 he wrote a e book, Confidenze, during which he praised fascism. He valued his “friendship with Hitler, Goering and Goebbels. In 1944, he collaborated with the Germans after they occupied Rome. Have been he in Germany on the finish of the battle, he would in all probability had been banned for years as a collaborator, however in Italy, he was forgiven nearly instantly. Not all people forgot his previous, although: he wasn’t let into the US until 1955. That didn’t forestall Gigli from singing in Italy, Europe and South America.
Gigli’s recordings don’t do justice to his honeyed tone however we have now two samples that appear to raised replicate his voice. Right here, from 1943, is his Vesti la giubba, from Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci (it’s a stay recording and we needed to lower down a part of the extended ovation). And right here, from 1949, is Nessun dorma, from Puccin’s Turandot.
Gigli was certainly one of Franco Corelli’s favourite singers; principally self-taught, he realized to sing by listening to the recordings of Caruso, Lauri-Volpi and Gigli. Right here’s Corelli’s rendition of Nessun dorma. Two years in the past we celebrated Corelli’s 100th anniversary, you possibly can learn extra about this nice singer right here.