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Born in Rome, (He is not to be confused with Carlo Guelfi, a younger baritone, also born in Rome.) Giangiacomo Guelfi studied law before turning to vocal studies, in Florence, with the great baritone Titta Ruffo. He made his stage debut in Spoleto, as Rigoletto in 1950. He made his debut in 1952 at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, also appearing in Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples, Palermo, Catania, and becoming a regular guest at the Arena di Verona. Outside Italy he appeared in Berlin, Lisbon, London, Cairo. He made his American debut in 1954 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and at the Metropolitan Opera of New York in 1970, he also appeared in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. He took part in the creation of contemporary works notably Lazzaro in Pizzetti's La figlia di Jorio, Naples, 1954. However he was mostly known for his Verdi portrayals in opera such as; Nabucco, I due Foscari, Attila, Macbeth, Il trovatore, I vespri siciliani, La forza del destino, Aida, etc. He was also appreciated in verismo operas such as Cavalleria rusticana, Andrea Chénier, Tosca, and La fanciulla del West.
Guelfi had a large, powerful and exciting voice and was an extrovert performer but was able to adapt these attributes to more classical works such as Guglielmo Tell, Lucia di Lammermoor, La favorite, L'Africaine, and Spontini's Agnes von Hohenstaufen.
He can be heard as Rance in La fanciulla del West in the recording with Renata Tebaldi, conducted by Arturo Basile, and seen in the 1961 Tokyo's performances of Tosca, also with Tebaldi, on DVD.
- "Scomparso il baritono Giangiacomo Guelfi, aveva debuttato a Spoleto con il Rigoletto". SpoletoCity (in Italian). February 9, 2012. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
- Le guide de l'opéra, les indispensables de la musique, R. Mancini & J-J. Rouvereux, (Fayard, 1986), ISBN 2-213-01563-5