Personalities | Luigi Lablache | Early Romantic | Opera

1794–1858, Italian

The Italian bass Luigi Lablache enjoyed a career lasting over 40 years. He possessed a magnificent, sonorous voice with a wide range, impressive stage presence and the ability to sing both comic and tragic roles, many of which he created. His repertoire was vast and included Figaro in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, King Henry VIII in Donizetti’s Anna Bolena and the title role in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale. Lablache also sang leading roles in works by Bellini, Mercadante and Pacini, among others. The English opera house manager Benjamin Lumley described Lablache as ‘the greatest dramatic singer of our time’. Despite growing hugely fat, Lablache was physically strong and robust, and his voice was still fresh and powerful when he was 60. Royalty figured among Lablache’s numerous admirers, including Tsar Alexander I of Russia and Queen Victoria, and Franz Schubert (1797–1828) dedicated three Italian songs to him.

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