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Titta Ruffo (9 June 1877 - 5 July 1953), born as Ruffo Cafiero (double forename) Titta, was an Italian operatic baritone who had a major international singing career. Known as the "Voce del leone" ("voice of the lion"), he was greatly admired, even by rival baritones, such as Giuseppe De Luca, who said of Ruffo: "His was not a voice, it was a miracle" (although not often published is the second part of De Luca's conclusion "...which he bawled away..."), and Victor Maurel, the creator of Verdi's Iago and Falstaff. Maurel said that the notes of Ruffo's upper register were the most glorious baritone sounds he had ever heard (see Pleasants, cited below). Indeed Walter Legge, the prominent classical record producer, went so far as to call Ruffo "a genius".
Born Ruffo Titta in Pisa (he reversed his forename and surname for the stage), Ruffo was the son of an engineer. He studied voice with several teachers. In Musical America, December 27, 1913, Ruffo wrote the following: "In view of the fact that numerous vocal instructors have endeavored to claim the credit of having been my "teacher" I desire to state emphatically that my brother Ettore is the one to whom practically all such distinction is due. I studied four months at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome under Signor Persichini and was told that I possessed neither voice nor musical talent. Afterward I received instruction from Signor Sparapani for two months and from Signor Casini for four months, but as this was not sufficient tuition for an operatic career I placed myself under the tutelage of my brother. I remained his faithful pupil for six years and am the living proof of his scientific method of voice production. All those asserting that they have been my "teacher" and therefore responsible for my success arrogate to themselves false and mendacious prerogatives."