Died: 2 February 1969
At the Met he befriended the great Caruso, who was widely impressed with Martinelli and at one point passed on his own costume for Canio in Pagliacci to Martinelli. After Caruso's death in 1921, Martinelli assumed many of his dramatic roles, and he developed into a first-class interpreter of the Verdian tenors; two thousand of his four thousand five hundred performances were in Verdi roles. He betrayed a voice of robust build and relentless stamina, and was showcased at the Met in taxing roles with high tessitura, such as Guglielmo Tell (Rossini), Samson (Samson et Dalila), Canio (Pagliacci), Manrico (Il Trovatore), Radamès (Aida) and Otello (Verdi). To the audiences of Covent Garden during the late 30's he was the epithome of Otello, receiving unhibited acclaim for his interpretations after an 18 years absence with the company. He was also a much beloved Calaf in Turandot, with his clarion ring and distinctive legato.
He made his last performance in Turandot as the Emperor Altoum at the age of 80 in 1965. He passed away in New York on 2 February 1969. He was then 84.
Giovanni Martinelli ranks amongst the greatest tenors of the century, and perhaps came to be the true Caruso-succesor after Caruso's death in 1921, turning into the Met's prime rooster for twenty years. He had a very distinct sound, with ringing top notes and a very forward emission with sustained notes, yet, he had his detractors, Lauri-Volpi for instance, his rival at the Met in the 1920s, who saw him as an obsessed Caruso-imitator, which eventually seriously flawed his emission with embottled notes (nota imbottigliata) as he sought to artificially darken his timbre.
|a09-07||Martinelli||Come un Bel Di Di Maggio||Chenier||1927||3.09|
|a09-11||Martinelli||Troncar w De-Luca & Mardones||W/Tell||1923||4.08|
|a09-13||Pertile||Donna Non Vidi Mie||M/Lescaut||1928?||2.43|
|a09-15||Martinelli||A Si Ben Mio||Trovatore||1927||2.04|
|a09-16||Pertile||A Si Ben Mio||Trovatore||1928?||8.15|
|a09-20||Martinelli||No Pagliaccio Non Son||Pagliacci||1927||4.16|
|a09-25||Martinelli||O Lola (siciliana)||Cavalleria||1927||2.37|
|n09-27||Martinelli Personal Narrative||1962||1.29|
|a09-28||Martinelli||Or Son Sei Mesi||G/West||1962||2.48|