Friday, January 13, 2012
The Training of Beniamino Gigli, a lesson for today's singers
At a time when opera was performed by every Tom, Dick and Harry impressario in Italy, Gigli like so many others could have walked onto the stage without training. Gigli writes about Rosati, "he understood my voice completely, and led me forward with no sense of strain, or effort." Gigli goes on to say, "The foundations of my vocal training had of course by this time been laid, but my singing still had a number of faults, and these Rosati was determined to cure me of. For example, I had grown accustomed to singing at the top of my voice, with all the strength of my lungs; and the result was the high notes gave me some trouble. Rosati helped me cultivate the finer shades of tone and taught me a sense of proportion. He made me leave opera alone for awhile and concentrate of delicate seventeenth and eighteenth Century songs..." The point is, Gigli sought out the training, found the right teacher and was able to parlay the natural ability and learned technique into a legendary opera career.
Interestingly, Rosati was able to parlay his tutelage of Gigli and another close contemporary Giacomo Lauri-Volpi into an even bigger career for himself in America. Gigli's fame brought a number of well known singers to the door of his Manhattan studio, notably; Mario Lanza, James Melton and Karin Branzell among others.
The moral in this story for a singer is multi-fold. First, even if you have a natural gift, there is always more to learn. Second, choose the right teacher, reputation only goes so far, one must make sure the teacher is right for you and can help you advance. Lastly, don't be in a rush to start your career, make sure you have the proper training for career longevity.
Beniamino Gigli gives a very short master class
Gigli sings "Improvviso" from "Andre Chenier" something the average lyric tenor would never handle
Gigli sings "Spirito gentile" from "La Favorita"