|born on||20 March 1890 at 16:30 (= 4:30 PM )|
|Place||Recanati, Italy, 43n24, 13e32|
|Timezone||LST m12e29 (is standard time)|
|Astrology data||29°59' 27°01 Asc. 12°00'|
Italian opera singer, a great bel canto lyric tenor with a powerful and superb voice. Immensely popular, he influenced several generations of Italian tenors. In lyric roles, his vocal color showed great emotion; his pianissimos floated like none other, and one left the theater with a delicious echo in memory.
Born on the Adriatic coast near Ancona, Gigli was the son of a shoemaker. He joined the choir at age seven, became a carpenter's apprentice at eight, a tailor's apprentice at ten, a pharmacist's assistant at twelve and also attended school during this period. He sang duets with his mother, studied voice and took saxophone lessons. His introduction to opera was while playing overtures and arias in a youth band. With a voice still unchanged at 15, he made his debut as the female protagonist in an operetta, "La Fuga di Angelica." After developing into a tenor he went to Rome where, after voice lessons with Agnese Bonucci, he won a scholarship to the Liceo Musicale, studying first with Antonio Cotogni, then with Enrico Rosati. At age 24, he won first prize in a voice contest in Parma out of 105 entrants.
Gigli's debut as a tenor was on 14 October 1914 in Rovigo, as Enzo in "La Gioconda." He followed his debut with a variety of lyric and spinto roles. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut on 26 November 1920 in "Mefistofele," and was well received. After Caruso's death in 1921, Gigli and Giovanni Martinelli divided his repertory with Gigli concentrating on the more lyrical operas, but including some heavier repertory.
In the '20s and early '30s he appeared in concerts throughout the U.S. and operas in South America, Germany, Sweden, Hungary and England, as well as Italy. When the Met asked some of its stars to take salary cuts because of the Depression, Gigli refused and returned to Italy. When he returned to the Met in 1939 for five performances of "Aida" critics wrote that his voice had lost a little of its sweetness and freshness but had gained in range, richness of expression and dramatic power.
During the conflicts surrounding WW II, Gigli declared himself a supporter of Mussolini and published a book called "Why I Am a Fascist" and often sang for Hitler. When the Allies took Rome, crowds demonstrated against him and he was denounced as "the tenor of the regime." The authorities forbade him to perform for fear of "incidents." Gigli made a comeback in March 1945 and continued to perform opera into 1954. In his last years he performed frequently with his daughter Rina and gave recitals, including a brief tour to the U.S. His repertory ultimately totaled 60 operas. His discography includes seven complete operas made commercially, as well as a number of others recorded live.
Gigli had a daughter Rina and son Enzo with his wife Costanza. He also had three children with his mistress of 22 years. After retirement, Gigli wrote his memoirs, published in ten languages and now out of print.
History revealed that he was opportunistic, deceptive with benefactors, women, amoral and easily led. Big-bellied and heavy set, he starred in 17 films dating from 1935 though he was an awkward actor.
He died on 30 November 1957 in Rome of heart disease and diabetes. On his tombstone are words from his favorite role, "Chénier": "With my voice I sang the fatherland."
- parent->child relationship with Gigli, Rina (born 31 January 1916)
- Work : Prize 1915 (First prize in voice contest)
- Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 26 November 1920 (Metropolitan Opera debut)
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- Work : New Job 1935 (First film debut)
- Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1939 (Returned to the Met)
- Work : Begin Major Project March 1945 (First performances after the war, nine years)
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- Death by Disease 30 November 1957 at 12:00 noon in Rome, Italy (Age 67, diabetes and heart disease)
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Bordoni quotes Barbault for 11:50am and Discepolo for B.C. with 4:30 PM Rome time.
Sy Scholfield quotes from the biography, "Beniamino Gigli" by Luigi Inzaghi (Zecchini, 2005), p. 9: "Beniamino Gigli è nato a Recanati alle ore 4.30 pomeridiane del 20 marzo 1890, da Domenico e da Ester Magnaterra. La sua casa, posta in Borgo di Castelnuovo, sotto la parrocchia di S. Maria del Castelnuovo, ..." Translation: 'Beniamino Gigli was born in Recanati at 4.30 pm on 20 March 1890 to Domenico and Ester Magnaterra in their house located in the village of Castelnuovo, in the parish of S. Maria del Castelnuovo...'
- Traits : Body : Weight (Heavy)
- Diagnoses : Major Diseases : Diabetes/ Hypoglycemia
- Family : Relationship : Cohabitation more than 3 yrs (Mistress of 22 years)
- Family : Relationship : Number of Marriages (One)
- Family : Parenting : Foster, Step, or Adopted Kids (Three children by mistress)
- Family : Parenting : Kids 1-3 (One son and one daughter)
- Family : Parenting : Kids - Noted (Sang professionally with daughter)
- Lifestyle : Work : Travel for work (Tours for performances)
- Vocation : Entertainment : Actor/ Actress (Secondary)
- Vocation : Entertain/Music : Vocalist/Opera (Bel canto lyric tenor)
- Vocation : Writers : Autobiographer (Wrote his memoirs)
- Vocation : Writers : Textbook/ Non-fiction ("Why I Am A Fascist")