Luigi Ravelli

born 1848
Picture of Luigi Ravelli

Most of Luigi Ravelli's life is not documented, we just know about the years 1880 to 1891. 1880 was the year of his London debut, at Her Majesty's Theatre. He returned the following year, and sang at Covent Garden in 1883, 1887, 1888, 1890 and 1891: Tamino, Florestan, Don José, Fra Diavolo, Edgardo, Gennaro, Lyonel, Duca, Alfredo, Radames, Erik, Raoul.

In between, he toured the USA, usually with the troupe of James H. Mapleson (yes, the one of the Mapleson cylinders, who was a touring comprimario at the time) – whenever he was not defaulting or had to be released from his contract because of egregious behavior, both of which occurred regularly, though. Ravelli was the craziest, most capricious and most conceited male diva that can be imagined; he used to ask his "oraculous" dog for advice what to do, whether to sing or to cancel, and interpreted the animal's growling as a "yes" or a "no". Once, Mapleson even had to sue him so as to get the company's sheet music back, which Ravelli had confiscated until Mapleson paid him money that, as the US court subsequently ruled, he never owed him. Mapleson took him back nonetheless every time they had broken up, because Ravelli caused considerable enthusiasm with the audiences. Mapleson's troupe also traveled to Canada, Ireland and England. And Ravelli made individual guest appearances in Italy, for instance at La Fenice in the 1886/87 season, as Boito's Faust and Edgardo (which latter was, together with José, his most famous role).

Reference 1: James H. Mapleson, The Mapleson memoirs, vol. II: 1848–1888, Chicago/New York/San Francisco 1888; reference 2: Kutsch & Riemens; reference 3

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