Gaetano Zinetti (Sanguinetto, November 5, 1873 – Sanguinetto, July 13, 1911) was the first child of Francesco Zinetti, carpenter and piano tuner, and Giulia Franceschini.
Born with a clear predisposition to music, at an early age he was assigned to Vincenzo Mela, well known composer of Isola della Scala (VR), with excellent results: in fact, at the age of eleven Zinetti had already composed and published two polkas.
On October 17, 1885 he was admitted to the Conservatory of Milan, which he attended for four years with more than good results.
Between 1890 and 1893 he studied Composition at the “Rossini Musical High School” in Pesaro with Carlo Pedrotti, professor of Verona, and Organ with Arturo Vanbianchi, another famous musician of the time.
On August 13, 1893 Gaetano Zinetti obtained a Licentiate in Composition and Organ and on October 28, 1893 he began the Opera Season in the Ristori Theatre of Verona (28 performances in 44 days) directing Ruggero Leoncavallo’s “Pagliacci”, followed by Pietro Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana” and “La Favorita” by Donizetti, with great success and critical acclaim.
He was immediately hired at the Municipal Theatre of Reggio Emilia for the Carnival Season of 1893/1894: 32 concerts greeted triumphantly.
Afterwards, he headed to Lonigo (1894), Montagnana (1894), Vercelli (1894/1895), Thiene (1895 and 1896). After these events, he made thirty concerts for the Carnival Season of 1895/1896 in Ferrara, during which the great composer Pietro Mascagni publicly praised him.
After Milan and Macerata, he went back to Ferrara by popular demand for the 1896 Autumn Season.
For the Carnival season of 1896/1897, Zinetti was at Mantua Social Theatre, where he contributed to a memorable triumph of the “Andrea Chénier” by Giordano, followed by the successes in Lecce, Trieste, Reggio Emilia and again for Mantua’s Carnival Season of 1897/1898.
An unforgettable season for Gaetano Zinetti was the Summer of 1898, when he went to Politeama D’Azeglio Theatre in Bologna, where he returned for the 1898/1899 Carnival Season, after being in San Giovanni in Persiceto and Florence in Fall 1898.
Between one work and the next, on February 4, 1898 Zinetti married Josephine Marconi, that would become famous with her husband’s name as an opera singer in the years following the death of the Master.
In the same year he directed at Livorno, Trieste, Bari, Venice; in Fall 1898 he returned to Florence, his favorite musical city, where he directed “Aida” and “Guglielmo Tell” with great success.
He was at the Rossini Theatre in Venice for Lent 1900, then at Este Theatre in the autumn and at the Duse Theatre in Bologna for the Carnival Season 1900/1901.
In Spring 1901, after directing at the Paganini Theatre in Genoa, during the Summer he directed the Gardens Theatre of the “Buen Retiro” in Madrid, obtaining numerous flattering expressions from the Spanish critics. On July 12, 1901 after one of his performance, he received the title of Knight from the Spanish Queen.
In 1902 he run two seasons (autumn and Lent 1902) at the Verdi Theatre in Florence.
The year 1903 was marked by the solemn inauguration of the Petruzzelli Theatre in Bari on 14 February, then Zinetti went to Lugo and Correggio. At the end of the year he was in Padua at the Garibaldi Theatre.
In 1904 Zinetti went to Florence, Livorno, Genoa and Ancona. In December 1904 he run a special edition of Werther by Jules Massenet at the Adrian Theatre in Rome, which was rewritten by the author to give the role of protagonist to the baritone Mattia Battistini in obvious sign of great esteem.
After the Rossini Theatre in Venice (January / March 1905), in June Zinetti began the Summer Season of the Adrian Theatre in Rome with the first successful edition of the “Mona Lisa”.
Between August and September 1905 Zinetti was engaged by the Vespasian Theatre of Rieti; at the same time, a Leoncavallo’s telegram asked him to direct in the same Fall the new work by Rolando Berlin at the San Carlo Theatre in Naples.
Reluctantly, Zinetti had to give up because he was already involved with the Municipal Theatre of Modena (October / December).
He was at the St. Charles Theatre in Naples for a great season of Lent and Carnival 1906 (14 works on the bill) along with Mascagni and Giordano.
After the performances at the Verdi Theatre of Vicenza (May / June 1906) began the health problems of the Master, who had to suspend all activities and gave up some important records, retiring in Sanguinetto until September 1907, when he performed, for the first time in his city, Rossini’s “Barbiere di Siviglia” at the Municipal Theatre, which later would be entitled to its name.
After his recovery, he started again to run, first in Ascoli Piceno, then triumphantly at the Regio Theatre of Parma (Carnival 1907/1908).
In June 1908, he received praise for his works from the press in Rome; in the same year, he returned again in Sanguinetto with 10 performances of Puccini’s “La Boheme”.
After giving up, almost certainly for health reasons, an important season at the San Carlo Theatre in Lisbon, in September 1909 Zinetti run Verdi’s “Traviata” and “Ernani” for the opening of the new Municipal Theatre of Sanguinetto.
In Fall 1909 he was still in Rome, then he went to Catania to work for the Bellini’s Theatre (February-April 1910).
In September he returned back to Sanguinetto.
Between November and December 1910, Zinetti went to Rovereto (TN) and Florence; for the Carnival Season 1910/1911 he was at La Fenice Theatre in Venice.
After Venice, Zinetti’s nephritis worsened: the small great Master, as he was increasingly called to emphasize the contrast between his slender physique and the undisputed musical genius, definitely retired in Sanguinetto, where he died in Summer 1911, not yet thirty-eight years old