Complete Encyclopaedia of Music/B/Belletti, Giovanni
Belletti, Giovanni, the barytone, who accompanied Jenny Lind on her visit to the United States, was born in Genoa in the year 1815. He had ever been passionately fond of music ; yet, deeply as he loved it, he did not commence his regular studies with the view of adopting it as a profession until he had attained the age of seventeen. At this time he was admitted as a student in the Conservatory of Bologna, under the direction of Signor Donelli. Under the tuition of this master he speedily arrived at a sufficient knowledge of the piano to make his appearance in public. He then placed himself under the tuition of Signor Pilotti, a master of counterpoint in the same institution, and in the space of a single year and a half was enabled to pass his examination, at which he acquired the diploma of a composer and teacher of singing. After this he returned from Bologna to his native city, and became the master and composer attached to the cathedral. He was paid by a purely honorary stipend ; but after his voice had been tried in a few masses it attracted notice, and many of his friends, seeing that he had the means of making it more lucrative than he would probably ever make his present position, advised him most strongly to undertake the far more largely paid career of a theatrical vocalist. After long hesitating whether or not to comply with their advice, his indecision was brought to an end by the Chevalier Bystrom, the sculptor to his majesty the King of Sweden, who, after some difficulty, induced him to follow him to Stockholm. Here propositions were made him of an engagement at the Royal Theatre. These he determined upon accepting. He consequently found himself singing at the side of Jenny Lind, who had not at this time commenced the career which has so completely dazzled and bewildered Europe. His debut was made in the "Lucia di Lammermoor." In this opera he obtained a highly-satisfactory success, and in consequence determined upon embracing the career which was offered him by the stage. In this theatre he remained four years. About this period Jenny Lind quitted Stockholm to make her first appearance at Berlin, and shortly after Signor Belletti resolved upon returning to his native country.
Here he was warmly received, and established his success in Europe by making a reputation of the highest order in his own country - a reputation to be justified not alone by the natural gifts of his voice, but by the thorough and admirable application of that musical science to whose acquirement his earliest years had been devoted.
In the midst, however, of his arrangements with the various Italian theatres, he was written to by Mr. Lumley, and offered an engagement in London at her Majesty's Theatre. The prospect of again finding himself singing with Jenny Lind induced him to accept this offer. He remained with Mr. Lumley three years, and made such a decided impression upon the English public that he would in all probability not have separated his future from them, had it not been at the wish of Jenny Lind herself, who urged him to accept the proposition made him by Mr. Barnum, and ac-company her to America, where he sang in all her concerts until her marriage.
As an operatic artist, Signor Belletti holds a high rank; but as an accomplished and clever musician, he has a right to take even higher ground. Since his return to Europe, Belletti Las sung at the operas of London and Paris with great distinction.