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Beniamino Gigli
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    (March 20, 1890-November 30, 1957)
    Born in Recantai, Italy
    Performed with the Metropolitan Opera (1920-32)
    Notable roles include Edgardo in ‘Lucia di Lammermoor,’ Rodolfo in ‘La Boheme,’ Enzo in ‘La Giocanda’ and Faust in ‘Mefistofele’
    His last name is also the title of a famously godawful Ben Affleck-Jennifer Lopez film.
    Critics complained of his tendency to inject sobs into his vocals at dramatic moments.
    In his memoirs, he lied about the date of his wedding to cover up the fact that his bride was pregnant at the altar.
    He fathered at least six children out of wedlock.
    He was the favorite singer of Mussolini and recorded the Fascist Party anthem ‘Giovinezza.’
    He wrote, ‘Hitler and Ministers Goebbels and Goering have honored me with their friendship’ and collaborated with the Germans when they occupied Rome.
    He came to prominence when he won an international singing contest in Parma, Italy (1914), with one of the judges declaring, ‘Finally, we have found the tenor.’
    Fred Gaisberg of HMV Records said his voice was more flexible than Enrico Caruso’s.
    He took 34 curtain calls at his Metropolitan Opera debut.
    He performed at nearly a thousand benefit concerts and raised more money for charities than any previous singer.

Credit: C. Fishel

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