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March 26, 2014

The Gigli Concert – Background

If you walk into the rehearsal hall of The Gigli Concert, Soulpepper Founding Member Diego Matamoros may pick up a vinyl record, tap the technicolor portrait of a distinguished Italian gentlemen, and say: “This is the man. What this play is all about.” And it’s true, of course, but music in The Gigli Concert – particularly the work of Beniamino Gigli – is used to frame a powerful story about men, communication, mental health, therapy, relationships, life, and death.

So, who was Gigli?

Born in 1890 in Recanati, Italy, Beniamino Gigli was an opera singer, renowned internationally for the great beauty of his voice and the soundness of his vocal technique, and one of the most famous tenors of his generation. In Tom Murphy’s The Gigli Concert, recordings by Gigli punctuate the play, as Gigli (the music and the man) becomes the primary obsession of the Irish Man, played by Soulpepper Founding Member Stuart Hughes.

Have a listen to Gigli singing Dai campi, dai prati from Act I, Scene 2 of the opera Mefistofele by Arrigo Boito, a song you can also hear during the play:

And why in this lauded Tom Murphy play does Gigli preoccupy the thoughts of the Irish Man, and subsequently, Diego’s British pseudo-therapist JPW King? To find out, you’ll need to catch The Gigli Concert, on stage at Soulpepper from March 28 to May 16.

The Gigli Concert is directed by Soulpepper Founding Member Nancy Palk, and features Soulpepper Founding Members Stuart Hughes and Diego Matamoros and Irene Poole in her Soulpepper debut.