At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Giovanni Martinelli – tenor

Singer made his fame abroad


Giovanni Martinelli was seen as the  successor to Enrico Caruso
Giovanni Martinelli was seen as the
successor to Enrico Caruso
One of the most famous tenors of the 20th century, Giovanni Martinelli, was born on this day in 1885 in Montagnana in the province of Padua in the Veneto.

Martinelli began his career playing the clarinet in a military band and then studied as a singer with Giuseppe Mandolini in Milan. He made his professional debut at the Teatro del Verme in Milan in the title role of Giuseppe Verdi's Ernani in 1910.

Martinelli became famous for singing the role of Dick Johnson in Giacomo Puccini's La Fanciulla del West, which he performed in Rome, Brescia, Naples, Genoa, Monte Carlo and also at La Scala in Milan.

He played Cavaradossi in Puccini's Tosca at the Royal Opera House in London and took on the same role for his first American engagement in 1913. That same year Martinelli portrayed Pantagruel in the world premiere of Jules Massenet’s Panurge in Paris.

He attracted favourable reviews when he played Rodolfo in Puccini's La Bohème at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He went on to sing 36 different roles for the theatre over 32 seasons.

Martinelli on stage in a production of  Rossini's opera William Tell
Martinelli on stage in a production of
Rossini's opera William Tell
In 1937 Martinelli returned to London to sing opposite the English soprano Eva Turner at Covent Garden.

He retired from the stage in 1950, but gave one final performance in 1967 at the age of 82 as Emperor Altoum in Puccini's Turandot in Seattle.

At the peak of his career Martinelli had a strong high C and exceptional breath control.  In America he was regarded as Enrico Caruso’s successor, even though their voices were different.

He made a number of recordings for Edison and the Victor Talking Machine.

Martinelli was married to Adele Previtali with whom he had three children. He died in 1969 at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City.

Montagnana's walls are some of the best preserved in the whole of Europe
Montagnana's walls are some of the best
preserved in the whole of Europe
Travel tip: 

Montagnana, where Martinelli was born, is one of the borghi più belli d’talia - an association of the most beautiful small towns in Italy - because it has some of the best preserved medieval walls in Europe. The cathedral has a fresco that has recently been attributed to the artist Giorgione.

The Teatro del Verme in Milan, where Martinelli made his operatic debut in 1910
The Teatro del Verme in Milan, where Martinelli
made his operatic debut in 1910
Travel tip:

The Teatro del Verme in Milan, where Martinelli made his operatic debut, is in Via San Giovannni sul Muro and was built on the site of a previous theatre. It was used for plays and operas throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Today the theatre is a venue for concert, plays and dance performances as well as exhibitions and conferences.

More reading:

Why some still regard Caruso as the greatest of them all

What made Giacomo Puccini one of Italy's all-time finest composers

Baritone Antonio Scotti's 35 seasons at the Met

Also on this day:

1965: The birth of the actress Valeria Golino

1968: Soave wine granted DOC status


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