A classic album featuring 22 popular ‘Neapolitan’ songs, recorded in Gigli’s prime, when the tone was at its most golden. This is a delightful collection of vintage music from one of the world’s greatest ever tenors.
“The Gigli CD is even better than ‘first rate’! You are to be heartily congratulated on a superb transfer from the original 78s.” Mr Newbould, Exeter
“What a golden voice. Wonderful” Mr D.M.
Beniamino Gigli was born at Recanati, near Ancona, on March 20, 1890, the youngest of six children of a poor shoemaker, who was also sacristan of the local cathedral. At the age of seven Gigli entered the cathedral choir of his home town and had his first lessons in singing from a local teacher. Because his family was so poor he left school at twelve and had to undertake menial tasks during his teenage years: he worked in turn for a carpenter, a tailor and a chemist. A chance meeting with a former employee of the great tenor Bonci (1870-1940) spurred Gigli into action and in 1907 he left for Rome where he had his first lessons. Finally in 1911 he managed to gain a scholarship to enter the Santa Cecilia Music Academy in Rome, although he was unable to meet the requirement of an ability to play the piano: he could merely blow a few popular tunes on a saxophone.
At Santa Cecilia, he studied with the baritone Antonio Cotogni (1831-1918), who was to become Gigli’s great mentor even though Gigli now went to study with Enrico Rosati who polished the young tenor’s technique. Rosati eventually became Gigli’s permanent coach. In 1914 Gigli graduated with honours, and in July, in a glare of publicity, won the international singing competition always held in Parma. Had the war not intervened, Gigli would have had a contract at Chicago as his reward. Instead, on October 15, 1914, he made his debut as Enzo in ‘La Gioconda’, in comparative obscurity at the Teatro Sociale at Rovigo.