Lablache, Luigi


Singer, whose mother was Irish and his father French; was born at Naples. At twelve he was placed in a conservatory, afterwards called San Sebastiano, where he studied singing under Valesi and the elements of music under Gentilli. He also had instruction on the violin and cello. His voice at this time was a beautiful contralto, and just before it broke he sang the solos in the Requiem of Mozart on the death of Haydn. After his voice changed it was a magnificent bass, which steadily developed until it became the finest of its kind on record. Lablache was possessed with the desire to go on the stage, and when eighteen years old he obtained an engagement at the San Carlo Theatre. Two years later he married and his young wife recognized his genius and persuaded him to study in order to fit himself for a better position. In 1821 the opera, Elisa e Claudiq, was written for him and his reputation was made. He made a tour of Italy, going also to Vienna, and everywhere scoring great success. Returning to Naples he sang in the chapel of Ferdinand I. and at the San Carlos. His debut in London was made in 1830, and he appeared in Paris the same year. Of great size and enormous strength, Lablache had a voice in proportion and he could make it humorous, tender or sorrowful at ease. His acting was equally good. At one time he gave instruction to Queen Victoria. Alexander II. of Russia decorated him with a medal and an order.