Luigi Ricci, lithography by Adolf Dauthage
Luigi Ricci, lithography by Adolf Dauthage

Luigi Ricci (8 July 1805 – 31 December 1859), was an Italian composer, particularly of operas. He was the elder brother of Federico Ricci, with whom he collaborated on several works. He was also a conductor.

Life

Ricci was born and educated in Naples, where he wrote his first opera at the conservatory in 1823. His triumphs in 1831 at La Scala with Chiara di Rosembergh and in 1834 with Un'avventura di Scaramuccia made him famous throughout Europe, and in 1835 he and his younger brother Federico collaborated in the first of the four operas they wrote together.

In 1837 Ricci ran into financial problems, brought about mainly by his extravagant life-style. He was forced to accept a job at Trieste, and he composed no operas for seven years. Then, however, he fell in love, at the same time, with both Francesca and Ludmila, the 17-year-old identical twin sisters of the singer Teresa Stolz, also singers, and this inspired him to create (in 1845) an opera for them both to sing in, at Odessa. Back in Trieste he married Ludmila (without, however, letting go of the other). He then composed three more operas on his own, which were well received, although his greatest success of these years was actually Crispino e la comare, his last collaboration with his brother, of which he wrote the greater part.

Comedy was Ricci's strong suit, and though not quite reaching the level of Donizetti (whom he himself greatly admired), Crispino is generally considered one of the best Italian comic operas of the period. 'The Brewer of Preston', however, is treated irreverently by Andrea Camilleri in the novel of the same name.

His conducting credits include the world premiere of Verdi's Il corsaro.

In 1859, shortly after the production of his last opera, Ricci succumbed to mental illness, and he ended his life in a hospital in Prague.

His daughter Lella Ricci (with Ludmila, 1850–71) was an opera singer, and his son Luigi Ricci-Stolz (with Francesca, 1852–1906) was a composer, too.

Ricci's operas and their librettists

References