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Beniamino Gigli (1890 - 1957)

When Gigli was only seven years old he joined the choir of Recanati Cathedral, where his father, a shoemaker who loved opera, was sacristan. Initially he worked in a chemist’s shop, taking his first singing lessons from Quirino Lazzarini; but in 1907 he and his brother, who was to become a distinguished painter, moved to Rome. Here they led a bohemian existence until Beniamino was offered work as a servant in a wealthy household. This not only provided board and lodging, but also the time to take free singing lessons from a local teacher, Agnese Bonucci. Having entered the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in 1911, where he was a pupil of Antonio Cotogni and Enrico Rosati, in 1914 he won an international singing competition at Parma at which one of the judges, the tenor Alessando Bonci, exclaimed: ‘We have found a tenor!’ He made his operatic stage debut in October of the same year as Enzo / La Gioconda at Rovigo.



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