Gigli, Beniamino, celebrated Italian tenor; b. Recanati, March 20, 1890; d. Rome, Nov. 30, 1957. He was a chorister at Recanati Cathedral. He commenced serious vocal studies with Agnese Bonucci in Rome, and continued his training with Cotogni and Rosati as a scholarship student at the Liceo Musicale there. After winning 1st prize in the Parma competition in 1914, he made his operatic debut as Enzo in La Gioconda in Rovigo on Oct. 14, 1914; subsequently sang in various Italian theaters, including Milan’s La Scala in 1918 as Boito’s Faust, a role he repeated in his Metropolitan Opera debut in N.Y. on Nov. 16, 1920. He remained on the Metropolitan roster as one of its leading singers until 1932, then returned for the 1938-39 season. He made his Covent Garden debut in London as Andrea Chenier on May 27, 1930; sang there again in 1931,1938, and 1946. He spent the years during World War II in Italy; then resumed his operatic appearances, making his farewell to the stage in 1953; however, he continued to give concerts, making a final, impressive tour of the U.S. in 1955. Gigli’s voice, with its great beauty and expressivity, made him one of the foremost tenors of his era; he was famous for such roles as the Duke of Mantua, Nemorino, Lionel, Des Grieux, Nadir, and Gounod’s Faust, as well as for the leading roles in Puccini’s operas. His memoirs were publ. in an Eng. tr. in London in 1957.
R. Rosner, B. G. (Vienna, 1929); D. Silvestrini, B. G. (Bologna, 1937); R. Gigli, B. G. mio padre: A cura di Celso Minestroni (Parma, 1986).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire