Belletti, Giovanni


Great Italian barytone, whose career was closely connected with that of Jenny Lind, with whom he toured the United States. He was born at Sarzana, a town in the small Italian territory of Lunigiana. His musical talent was early evinced, and his father sent the gifted child to the school at Bologna, directed by Pilotti. Belletti studied counterpoint and singing at Bologna, and remained at the famous school until he received his diploma. Although possessing a remarkable voice, Belletti hesitated to go on the stage; but his indecision came to an end when the Swedish sculptor, Brystrom, offered to make all preparation for his debut in Stockholm, and in 1838, Belletti appeared at the Swedish capital, in Rossini's II Barbiere. It was just at this time that Jenny Lind's victorious course was beginning, and she and Belletti started together on the road to fame and riches. Julian Marshall, in Grove, says: "To the influence of Jenny Lind, and to the critical taste of his first audience, as well as to the fine old school of singing in which he had been brought up, he owed the pure style and freedom from vulgarity which, more even than his noble voice, made him the greatest barytone of the century." In Stockholm and London, Belletti sang with Jenny Lind in the operas of Verdi, Rossini, Donizetti and Meyerbeer. Paris applauded him, and he was markedly successful in his own land. When Jenny Lind was engaged by Barnum to tour in the United States, at her request Belletti was engaged to accompany her. He was most enthusiastically received in America, and had full share in the homage paid the Swedish nightingale and her company. After the tour in America, Belletti sang in London until 1863, then, in the height of his career, retired from public life, went back to Sarzana, to a quiet life in the town of his birth.