B0120. (GIOVANNI MARTINELLI) Paolo Padoan & Maurizio Tiberi. Giovanni Martinelli, un leone al Metropolitan – A Biography. Roma, TIMA Club, 2007. 495pp. Index; Exhaustive Chronology; Discography; Repertoire; over 300 Photos, many never before in print; Illustrated with concert & opera program reproductions, newspaper articles & reviews, plus Vitaphone, Victor & Lucky Strike advertisements. Accompanied by 2 Martinelli CDs incl. rare & Unpublished recordings (among which are a Met Opera Guild performance (w.Cloe Elmo & Virgilio Lazzari) of 18 March, 1949, plus other private recordings [featuring Martinelli’s final stage appearance as Altoum in Turandot, 31 Jan., 1967, Seattle]), plus Interview with Martinelli. (Italian Text) (Pictorial thick paper covers)
“Every self-respecting collector of vocal recordings has known Maurizio Tiberi of course for years. A pioneer in the preservation of the vocal legacy of Italy’s legendary opera singers, Tiberi has been responsible for numerous interesting LP and CD releases, often with splendid booklets, in most cases with complete biographies. Several of them are sold out completely, others are still available, and I urge our readers to acquire them before they also will disappear forever. In the past he published the only biography of Lina Pagliughi and more recently he was responsible for the only and definitive GIOVANNI MARTINELLI biography. A ‘must-have’ book for every tenor fan. A goldmine!
Maurizio Tiberi is to be complemented for his heroic efforts (don’t forget this is a one- man enterprise) to preserve the heritage of Italian vocal art.”
- Rudi van den Bulck, OPERANOSTALGIA
“Martinelli remains a legend of stamina and longevity in the opera world, particularly for a heroic tenor, a type of voice not always associated with longevity. He made his opera début in 1908 and sang his last performance in 1967. His voice was not, by contemporary accounts, as huge as that of most heroic tenors, but he had such strong focus and projection that he more than compensated for this perceived shortfall. Particularly at the Met, Martinelli was considered Caruso's successor in the more dramatic rôles, as Gigli was in the more lyrical ones. Martinelli had a strong sense of legato phrasing, powerful breath control, and a distinctive timbre, although some listeners found it overly metallic. Martinelli made more use of rubato than what would be permitted in post-1970s practice, but unlike most heroic tenors of any era, he generally sang, rather than slurred, grace notes.
In 1910, Martinelli sang the title rôle of Ernani at La Scala, and was promptly invited to audition for the Italian première of LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST (which had premiered at the Met with Caruso.) After some hesitation over his lack of experience, Puccini and Toscanini chose him, and later, according to one story, he was Puccini's choice for the world première of TURANDOT, but the Met management would not release Martinelli from his contract.
In 1912 he made his Covent Garden début as Cavaradossi in TOSCA, and his Met début in 1913 -- the first of an eventual 663 performances at the Met. 1913 was also the year of the posthumous première of Massenet's PANURGE, in which Martinelli sang Pantagruel. In 1915 he sang Lefebvre in the première of Giordano's MADAME SANS-GENE, and in 1916, created the rôle of Fernando in Granados' GOYESCAS. Martinelli began to increase his repertoire to include most of the Italian and French dramatic rôles.
Much of Martinelli's career was focused in the United States, and it was not until 1937 that he returned to Covent Garden. In 1939, he sang TRISTAN UND ISOLDE in Chicago with Kirsten Flagstad. In 1945 he stopped singing staged operas at the Met, but still participated in various benefit recitals. His last complete rôle was as Samson in Philadelphia in 1950, but in 1967, he sang the Emperor in a Seattle production of TURANDOT.”
- Anne Feeney, allmusic.com
"To have known Giovanni Martinelli was to have known one of the finest men God ever created. I know of no better way to say it. He was, first of all, an extraordinary physical specimen: he was broad-shouldered, massively built (he had been a blacksmith’s apprentice as a young man), and his smile instantly revealed his sunny disposition. His face, crowned by an unruly mane of auburn hair, had a rugged handsomeness rarely seen among tenors. His voice and his physique were a perfect match. The inner man was every bit as attractive….His voice was not what one would call intrinsically beautiful, nor his method entirely flawless; but the effect of his singing was never less than magical."
- Rosa Ponselle, PONSELLE – A SINGER’S LIFE, pp.57-58