Personalities | Anton Raaff | Classical Era | Opera

1714–97, German

The German tenor Anton Raaff studied in both Germany and Italy and made his debut in Munich in 1736. There followed performances in Italy in 1739, Bonn and Frankfurt in 1742 and in Vienna in 1749, where, according to Metastasio, he ‘sang like an angel’. Raaff went on to perform in Madrid in 1755 and Naples in 1759. In 1770, he entered the service of Carl Theodor, the Elector Palatine. When Mozart first heard Raaff he was not impressed, but changed his mind and wrote an aria especially for him. Raaff returned the compliment and asked the elector to commission Idomeneo from Mozart. Idomeneo was produced in Munich in 1781, and Mozart wrote the title role with Raaff’s vocal qualities in mind. One rare quality Raaff’s voice possessed was longevity: it was still in top condition in 1787, when he was 73.

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