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Giovanni Martinelli (October 22, 1885 – February 2, 1969) was an Italian operatic tenor. He was associated with the Italian lyric-dramatic repertory, although he performed French operatic roles to great acclaim as well. Martinelli was one of the most famous tenors of the 20th century, enjoying a long career at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and appearing at other major international theatres.
Martinelli was born on October 22, 1885 in Montagnana, a town in the province of Padua, Veneto to parents Lucia Bellini and Antonio Martinelli.
After service as a clarinetist in a military band, he studied with Giuseppe Mandolini in Milan, and made his professional debut at the Teatro dal Verme, as Ernani in 1910; the role of Dick Johnson in La fanciulla del West became his passport role: he sang it for his debut in Rome (under Arturo Toscanini), Brescia, Naples, Genoa—all in 1911—as well as in Monte Carlo and at the La Scala theatre in 1912; Cavaradossi in Tosca was his debut role at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, in London and for his first American engagement in Philadelphia in 1913; on April 25, 1913 he portrayed Pantagruel in the world premiere of Jules Massenet's Panurge at the Théâtre de la Gaîté in Paris.
Martinelli's debut at the Metropolitan Opera took place on November 20, 1913, as Rodolfo in La Bohème, where the young tenor's easy high C and pure, silvery tone attracted favorable attention; he was a Met mainstay for 32 seasons, with 926 performances of 36 roles, appearing most often as Radames in Aida; Otello; Manrico in Il trovatore; Don Alvaro in La forza del destino; Calaf in Turandot and Dick Johnson in La fanciulla del West; but also as Arnold in Guglielmo Tell; Eleazar in La Juive; Enzo in La Gioconda; Don Jose in Carmen; Vasco de Gama in L'Africaine; Canio in I pagliacci; Pollione in Norma. He also sang in Boston, San Francisco and Chicago, often trying out new roles there, before singing them at the Met.