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Dinh Gilly, French-Algerian Baritone

By August 9, 2022March 19th, 2023No Comments

There is unfortunately not much biographical available about Dinh Gilly. I will provide as much detail as I have been able to find below. Gilly was a wonderful Baritone, who was able to sing beautifully lytically. There are recordings available that date to the early 1900s. I have avoided those because the sound isn’t very good. There are electronic recordings of Gilly in his 50s at the end of the 1920s. I have selected a few of these to post.

This is an old Italian Art Song written by Giulio Caccini. It was published in about 1601. The song seems simple, but it is not simple to sing.

Amarilli, mia bella

Amarilli, mia bella,
Non credi, o del mio cor dolce desio,
D’esser tu l’amor mio?
Credilo pur: e se timor t’assale,
Dubitar non ti vale.
Aprimi il petto e vedrai scritto in core:
Amarilli, Amarilli, Amarilli
è il mio amore.

Amaryllis, my beautiful one

Amaryllis, my beautiful one,
do you not believe, o my heart’s sweet desire,
That you are my love?
Believe it thus: and if fear assails you,
Doubt not its truth.
Open my breast and see written on my heart:
Amaryllis, Amaryllis, Amaryllis,
Is my beloved.

This is the Prolog to the Italian Verismo opera Pagliacci. Surprisingly enough, it is sung in English. Since I don’t have the exact translation that was used, I am showing the original Italian and an English translation that should be close enough to what Gilly sings.


Si può? Si può?
Signore! Signori! Scusatemi
Se da sol mi presento. Io sono il Prologo.
Poiché in iscena ancor
Le antiche maschere mette l’autore,
In parte ei vuol riprendere
Le vecchie usanze, e a voi
Di nuovo inviami.
Ma non per dirvi come pria
“Le lacrime che noi versiam son false!
Degli spasimi e dei nostri martir
Non allarmatevi!” No. No.
L’autore ha cercato invece pingervi
Uno squarcio di vita.
Egli ha per massima sol che l’artista
È un uom, e che per gli uomini
Scrivere ei deve. Ed al vero ispiravasi.
Un nido di memorie in fondo all’anima
Cantava un giorno, ed ei con vere lacrime
Scrisse, e i singhiozzi il tempo gli battevano!
Dunque, vedrete amar sì come s’amano
Gli esseri umani, vedrete dell’odio
I tristi frutti. Del dolor gli spasimi,
Urli di rabbia, udrete, e risa ciniche!
E voi, piuttosto che le nostre povere
Gabbane d’istrioni, le nostr’anime
Considerate, poiché siam uomini
Di carne e d’ossa, e che di quest’orfano
Mondo al pari di voi spiriamo l’aere!
Il concetto vi dissi. Or ascoltate
Com’egli è svolto.
(gridando verso la scena)
Andiam. Incominciate!


(Tonio appears through the curtain, dressed as Taddeo
in the style of the commedia dell’arte.)

Please? Will you allow me?
Ladies! Gentlemen! Excuse me
if I appear thus alone. I am the Prolog.
Since our author is reviving on our stage
the masks of ancient comedy,
he wishes to restore for you, in part,
the old stage customs, and once more
he sends me to you.
But not, as in the past, to reassure you,
saying, “The tears we shed are false,
so do not be alarmed by our agonies
or violence!” No! No!
Our author has endeavored, rather,
to paint for you a slice of life,
his only maxim being that the artist
is a man, and he must write
for men. Truth is his inspiration.
Deep-embedded memories stirred one day
within his heart, and with real tears
he wrote, and marked the time with sighs!
Now, then, you will see men love
as in real life they love, and you will see
true hatred and its bitter fruit. And you will hear
shouts both of rage and grief, and cynical laughter.
Mark well, therefore, our souls,
rather than the poor players’ garb
we wear, for we are men
of flesh and bone, like you, breathing
the same air of this orphan world.
This, then, is our design. Now give heed
to its unfolding.
(shouting towards the stage)
On with the show! Begin!

Dinh Gilly

Born Algiers July 19, 1877 – Died London May 19, 1940

French baritone. After studies in Toulouse and Rome, he won a premier prix at the Paris Conservatoire in 1902 and made his debut on December 14, 1902 as Silvio in Pagliacci at the Opéra, where remained until 1908. He sang in Latin America, Spain, Germany, and Monte Carlo. From 1909 to 1914, he was a member of the Metropolitan Opera, with which he sang Sonora in the world premiere of La fanciulla del West, Rigoletto, Count di Luna, Amonasro, Lescaut (Manon), and other leading roles.

In 1911, he made his Covent Garden debut as Amonasro and also sang Jack Rance (in the first London Fanciulla), Sharpless, Rigoletto, and Athanaël in Thais. He appeared in several later seasons and was last heard in 1924 as Germont. He was admired as a highly musical and expressive singer, an excellent linguist, and a fine actor. He taught in London, where his pupils included John Brownlee (a famous Australian baritone). Between 1908 and 1928, he made approximately 40 recordings.