Martin, Riccardo (actually, Hugh Whitfield)

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Martin, Riccardo (actually, Hugh Whitfield)

Martin, Riccardo (actually, Hugh Whitfield), American tenor, teacher, and composer; b. Hopkinsville, Ky., Nov. 18, 1874; d. N.Y., Aug. 11, 1952. He received training in composition from MacDowell at Columbia Univ. and in voice from Sbriglia in Paris (1901), Franklin Cannone in Milan, and Vincenzo Lombardi in Florence (1908). In Oct. 1904 he made his operatic debut as Gounod’s Faust in Nantes under the name Richard Martin. In 1905 he appeared as Andrea Chénier in Verona under the name Riccardo Martin. After making his U.S. debut as Canio in New Orleans in 1906, he toured with the San Carlo Opera Co. (1906–07). On Nov. 20, 1907, he made his Metropolitan Opera debut in N.Y. as Boito’s Faust, remaining on its roster until 1915. During his years with the Metropolitan Opera, he appeared in such roles as Pinkerton, Cavaradossi, Canio, Manrico, Rodolfo, and Turiddu; he also created the roles of Quintus in Horatio Parker’s Mona (March 14, 1912) and Christian in Walter Damrosch’s Cyrano de Bergerac (Feb. 27, 1913) while there. In 1910 he appeared as Pinkerton at London’s Covent Garden. In 1910–11 and 1912–13 he made appearances with the Boston Grand Opera Co. In 1917–18 he was again on the roster of the Metropolitan Opera, and then sang with the Chicago Grand Opera Co. (1920–22). He also made appearances as a concert artist before settling in N.Y. as a voice teacher. Among his compositions were a ballet, orch. music, and songs. Martin possessed a beautiful spinto voice and dramatic stage gifts, but his career was overshadowed by his celebrated colleague Enrico Caruso.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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