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 25 April 1913 he portrayed Pantagruel in the world premiere of Jules Massenet's Panurge at the Théâtre de la Gaîté in Paris. Martinelli's New York Metropolitan Opera debut 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 remained a Met mainstay for 32 seasons, with 926 performances of 36 roles. He appeared 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 Pagliacci, Pollione in Norma. Martinelli also sang in Boston, San Francisco and Chicago, often trying out new roles before singing them at the Met. Outside the United States, Martinelli appeared in Paris and Buenos Aires during his prime; but, oddly enough, his native Italy did not hear him at his peak.
In 1937, he returned to London to sing at Covent Garden in highly acclaimed performances of Otello, and as Calaf opposite the English dramatic soprano Eva Turner. He retired from the stage in 1950, although he gave one final performance at the age of 82 as the Emperor Altoum, in Turandot, in Seattle. Martinelli was essentially a spinto tenor of steely brilliance. His rigorously-controlled technique gave him exceptional breath control, although it did not prohibit some occasional tightness and squeezing out of notes, particularly late in his career. His interpretive style was generally restrained and noble, but he was capable of delivering passionate histrionic outbursts where appropriate in such roles as Canio.
As his voice matured, some regarded him as Enrico Caruso's successor in dramatic parts, although the timbre of their voices were markedly different. (Caruso's tone was much richer and warmer than Martinelli's.) Martinelli's forward, vibrant projection and broad phrasing found their supreme expression in Verdi's operas, ranging from Ernani to Otello. In lyrical or light-hearted music, however, his voice production could be too forceful and stiff. In private life, Martinelli was said to be something of a playboy, with a charming personality, a wealth of anecdotes, and an impressive head of hair that grew silver with age.  Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
show me more