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Tommaso Salvini (January 1, 1829 in Milanmarker – December 31, 1915 in Florencemarker) was an Italianmarker actor. His father and mother were both actors, and Tommaso first appeared when he was barely fourteen as Pasquino in Goldoni's Donne curiose. In 1847 he joined the company of Adelaide Ristori, who was then at the beginning of her brilliant career. It was with her as Elettra that he won his first success in tragedy, playing the title rôle in Alfieri Oreste at the Teatro Valle in Romemarker.

He fought in the cause of Italian independence in 1849; otherwise his life was an unbroken series of successes in his art. He acted frequently in Englandmarker, and made five visits to Americamarker, his first in 1873 and his last in 1889. In 1886 he played there Othello to the lago of Edwin Booth.

Apart from Othello, which he played for the first time at Vicenzamarker in June 1856, his most famous impersonations included Conrad in Paolo Giacometti's La Morte civile, Egisto in Alfieri's Merope, Saul in Alfieri's Saul, Paolo in Silvio Pellico's Francesca da Rimini, Oedipus in Nicolini's play of that name, Macbeth and King Lear.

Salvini's acting in Othello greatly inspired the young Russian actor Constantin Stanislavski, who saw Salvini perform in Moscow in 1882 and who would, himself, go on to become one of the most important theatre practitioners in the history of theatre. Stanislavski wrote that Salvini was the "finest representative" of his own approach to acting.

Salvini retired from the stage in 1890, but in January 1902 took part in the celebration in Romemarker of Ristori's eightieth birthday. Salvini published a volume entitled Ricordi, anedotti ed impressioni (Milan, 1895). Some idea of his career may be gathered from Leaves from the Autobiography of Tommaso Salvini (Londonmarker, 1893).

Salvini was so confident in his talents as an actor that he was once quoted as saying, "I can make an audience weep by reading them a menu."

His son Alessandro(aka Alexander) (1861-1896), also an actor, had several notable successes in Americamarker, particularly as d'Artagnan in The Three Guardsmen.


  1. Stanislavski (1938, 19) and Benedetti (1999, 18).


  • Benedetti, Jean. 1999. Stanislavski: His Life and Art. Revised edition. Original edition published in 1988. London: Methuen. ISBN 0413525201.
  • Stanislavski, Constantin. 1938. An Actor’s Work: A Student’s Diary. Trans. and ed. Jean Benedetti. London: Routledge, 2008. ISBN 9780415422239.

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