Beniamino Gigli was born in Recanati near Ancona, the son of a shoe-maker and an opera buff.
In 1914, Gigli won first prize in an international singing competition in Parma. Gigli made many important debuts, in quick succession and always in Mefistofele: Teatro Massimo di Palermo (March 31, 1915), Teatro San Carlo di Napoli (December 26, 1915), Teatro Costanzi di Roma (December 26, 1916), La Scala (November 19, 1918), and finally the Metropolitan (November 26, 1920). Other roles Gigli became particularly associated with included Rodolfo in Giacomo Puccini's La Bohème and the title role in Umberto Giordano's Andrea Chénier, both of which he would later record in full.
Gigli rose to prominence after the death of Italian tenor Enrico Caruso in 1921. Gigli left the Met in 1932, ostensibly after refusing to take a pay cut. Giulio Gatti-Casazza, the Met's GM at the time, was furious at his company's most popular singer; he spread numerous lies to the press, e.g., that Gigli was the only singer not to accept the pay cut. Furthermore, Gatti was careful to hide Gigli's couteroffer to the press. In it, Gigli offered to sing five or six concerts gratis, which in dollars was worth more than Gatti's imposed pay cut!)
Before his retirement in 1955, Gigli undertook an exhausting world tour of Farewell Concerts. Gigli died in Rome in 1957.
See video of Gigli below.
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License
. (See Copyrights