(October 22, 1885 – February 2, 1969)
Giovanni Martinelli was a celebrated Italian operatic tenor particularly associated with the Italian lyric-dramatic repertory, although he performed French operatic roles to great acclaim as well.
Recognised as one of the most famous tenors of the 20th century, Martinelli enjoyed a long career at the Metropolitan Opera and also appeared at many other major international theatres.
Essentially a spinto tenor of steely brilliance, he could command a strong high C and his rigorously-controlled technique gave him exceptional breath control.
Generally recognised for maintaining a controlled calm disposition onstage he could frequently deliver an impassioned outburst in roles like Canio.
In his twenties many considered him to be Caruso’s successor even though Caruso’s tone was markedly different and much warmer - but his broad phrasing was ideal for supreme expression in Verdi’s operas - notably roles such as Ernani and Otello.
He enjoyed the reputation of being a playboy in his private life and certainly his good looks and full head of hair that he retained into his old age before turning silver, added to his charm.
He made a large number of recordings - many of which are available today on CD.
He also hosted a filmed series in the 50’s called Opera Cameos - which are stored so safely away we will probably never get the chance to see them again.