Il mese del tenore verdiano XXII: Giovanni Martinelli (1885-1969)

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Martinelli is not everybody´s cup of tea, he certainly is mine, for many reasons, but also with some „buts“ – there is a slight unevennesses in his vocal production caused by using too much breath pressure. It shows especially in recordings from the late 1920s on, when the upper part of the voice tended to sound dry, stiff and tight. In the live recordings from the late 1930s on you can also hear many exaggerated histrionic effects. Here, in 1915 at the age of just 30 he was in his vocal prime: five years after his operatic debut (as Ernani) and two years after his debut at the Metropolitan he is in splendid vocal form. The beautiful tempo is elegant and not too slow – just right and no problem for a singer with the stamina of Martinelli. He takes his time but does not drag the tempo. His strength were a seamless legato line and slancio and grinta as an interpreter, but without ever sounding vulgar. Yet – although his voice did have a spinto and later also more dramatic character, and although he had a truly impressive and easy upper register, he was a singer who never was loud and monotone. He was always nuanced and varied as long as his vocal condition permitted it… Elegance, vocal authority (Martinelli was a master of the recitative, even more so in his later recordings) and legato, legato, legato. Surely one of his very finest discs.

Goodness, what an „Ernani“ this must have been at the MET in 1921: Martinelli, Ponselle, Danise, Mardones………………………………


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