The tenor Luigi Alva was born in Peru, home of other noted lyric tenors such as Ernesto Palacio and Juan Diego Florez. He studied there with Rosa Mercedes Ayarza de Morales, and made his debut in Federico Moreno Torroba's zarzuela Luisa Fernanda. He went to Milan in 1953 and studies with Emilio Ghirardini later he was called from Giulio Comfallonieri to became a "cadet" at the La Scuola di Canto (Voice Academy) at La Scala.
In Italy Luigi Alva make his European debut at the Teatro Nuovo in Milan as Alfredo in Verdi's La traviata, following that with his in la Piccola Scala in Cimarosa's Il Matrimonio Segreto. His debut in Teatro alla Scala was in 1956 as Count Almaviva in Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia. He was soon invited to sing at the most important European festivals and opera houses. At Glyndebourne, he made his debut as Nemorino in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore. His Metropolitan Opera debut was in 1964 as Fenton in Verdi's Falstaff. Subsequently he sang with most of the leading companies in USA and Europe.
In 1960's and 1970's there were few singers, let alone tenors, who could compare in sheer vocal elegance with Luigi Alva. Unlike so many, he never tried to venture out of his natural repertoire. Instead, he delivered Mozart, Rossini, and Donizetti with great elegance and style for four decades. He was the foremost tenore leggiero of the third quarter of the 20th century. He was admired for his purity of tone, the elegance of his phrasing and the clarity of his diction. A Mozart and Rossini specialist, Alva still sets the standard for such roles as Don Ottavio (in Don Giovanni), Count Almaviva (in Il Barbiere di Siviglia) and Fenton (in Verdi's Falstaff).
Luigi Alva co-operated with conductors like Otto Klemperer, Claudio Abbado, Nino Sanzogno, Herbert von Karajan and Carlo Maria Giulini. His duets with Teresa Berganza in Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia and La Cenerentola are the hallmarks of the epoch.
In 1982, Luigi Alva returned to Lima to teach and left the stage in 1989. He sponsors the Luigi Alva Competition for young singers and gives master-classes. Alva now teaches singing at the La Scuola di Canto (Voice Academy) at La Scala in Milan.