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Giovanni Belleti, baritone
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Giovanni Battista Belleti (1813-1890) - Italian baritone
Belleti was born at Sarzana, Italy on 17 February 1813. His early history in his native country was not found, but he was in England appearing at Her Majesty's Theatre by 1849. James Henry Mapleson formed an opera tour company in that year and recruited Belleti for the opera troupe. Mapleson took over the management of Her Majesty's Theatre in 1862 and continued to include Belleti the operas performed there. Phineas T. Barnum was great admirer of the singer Jenny Lind who was well known at Her Majesty's Theatre and Giovanni Belleti often appeared with her. Barnum persuaded Jenny Lind to come to America for tour in 1885-86, offering her a lucrative contract of 15,000 pd. sterling plus full expenses for transportation, room & board for her, a friend, and domestic aides. The tour contract was for 150 concerts or oratorios to be given in America and Havanna, and once Barnum broke even on the 15,000 pd. sterling she was to receive one-fifth of the profits. Giovanni Belleti was a part of the contract and he was to be paid 2500 pd. sterling plus all traveling expenses and hotel bills. In addition, Lind brought musical director and pianist, Julius Benedict who was paid 5,000 pd. sterling plus all expenses. Barnum was required prepay all the money before the party left for America. Giovanni Belleti was known to have appeared as soloist at the Handel Festival held at The Crystal Palace in July 1862. The huge iron and glass architectural facility built for the London Exposition of 1850-51 was fitted with enormous sound boards mounted to the glass walls and ceiling to accomodate a huge orchestra, an enormous chorus, and the soloists. Giovanni Belleti died at his home in Sarzana on 27 December 1890.
(Kindly contributed by T. Max Hochstetler, June 2007)