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Titta Ruffo (1877 - 1953)

Titta Ruffo, whose real name was Ruffo Cafiero Titta, initially considered following in the career footsteps of his blacksmith father Orestes Titta (who named his son after Ruffo, a favourite hunting dog); but his superb natural voice indicated that his future was to lie in singing. He studied briefly in Rome with Venceslao Persichini, who also taught Battistini and de Luca, and in Milan with Lelio Casini; but, as he himself acknowleged, he was essentially self-taught.

Ruffo’s operatic stage debut came in 1897, as the Herald / Lohengrin at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome. This was followed by appearances throughout the Italian provinces, for instance at Livorno and Pisa, singing major roles such as the title part in Rigoletto and Barnaba / La Gioconda; and by visits also to Santiago (Chile) in 1900 and Cairo in 1901. He sang Enrico / Lucia di Lammermoor and Figaro / Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Royal Opera House, London in 1903 and was scheduled to sing Rigoletto opposite Nellie Melba; but she scuttled this proposal on the grounds of his being too young to play her father. During the 1903–1904 season however Ruffo sang this role several times at La Scala, Milan, marking the take-off of his European career as a top-flight opera singer.




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