Lablache, Luigi, famous Italian bass of French and Irish descent; b. Naples, Dec. 6, 1794; d. there, Jan. 23, 1858. He was admitted at 12 to the Cons. della Pietà dei Turchini in Naples, where he studied with Valesi. He commenced his operatic career as a buffo napoletano in Fioravanti’s La Molinara at the Teatro San Carlino there (1812), then studied in Messina, where he appeared as a buffo; was made primo basso cantante in Palermo (1813). He gained acclaim at his La Scala debut in Milan as Dandini in Rossini’s La Cenerentola (1817), and continued to sing there until 1823; also sang in Rome, Turin, and Venice. He then became a principal member of Barbara’s Vienna opera enterprise (1824); Ferdinand I of Naples made him a member of the royal chapel and the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. He scored a triumphant London debut at the King’s Theatre as Geronimo in Cimarosa’s Il matrimonio segreto (March 30, 1830), and continued to appear there every year until 1852 (1833-34 excepted). He made his Paris debut as Geronimo at the Théâtre-Italien (Nov. 4, 1830), where he was a great favorite until 1851; created the roles of Sir George Walton in Bellini’s I Puritani (Jan. 25, 1835), and Marino Faliero (March 12, 1835) and Don Pasquale (Jan. 3, 1843) in Donizetti’s operas, ensuring his success with Paris audiences. During one of his stays in England (1836–37), he served as singing teacher to Princess Victoria. He was a principal singer of Gye’s company at Covent Garden (1854) until his retirement from the stage owing to ill health (1856). Although he was best known for his buffo roles, he was capable of remarkable serious portrayals as well.
F. Castil-Blaze, Biographie de L. (Paris, 1850); G. Widen, L. L (Göteborg, 1897).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire