Born March 20, 1890 in Recanati, Italy
Died Nov. 30, 1957 of pneumonia in Rome, Italy
Tenor Beniamino Gigli was the successor to the great Enrico Caruso.
Gigli made his opera debut at Rovigo in 1915 in the part of Enzo in “La Gioconda.” He sang with the gusto of his peasant background.
After 12 years as the star tenor in New York, he returned to Italy after a squabble with the Met over a pay cut during the Depression. While other Met singers accepted pay cuts, Gigli refused.
After World War II. Allied officials banned his singing in a concert on the grounds that he had had Fascist connections.
Gigli admitted he had sung for the Fascists and Germans but said he never had any interest in politics.
In 1955, after a 16-year absence, he returned to the United States to sing three farewell recitals in New York’s Carnegie Hall.
In his last years he stayed mostly in Italy, where he was a wealthy estate owner.