Ruggero Raimondi was born in Bologna, Italy, during World War II. His voice matured early into its adult timbre, and at the age of 15, he auditioned for conductor Francesco Molinari-Pradelli, who encouraged him to pursue an operatic career. He began vocal studies with Ettore Campogalliani, and was accepted at age 16 as a student at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan. He then continued his studies in Rome, under the guidance of Teresa Pediconi and Armando Piervenanzi.
After having won the National Competition for young opera singers in Spoleto, he made his debut in the same city in the role of Colline in La Bohème in the Festival dei Due Mondi. Subsequently an opportunity arose for him at the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome when he was called upon to substitute in the role of Procida in Giuseppe Verdi’s I Vespri Siciliani, and he received enormous success from the public and the critics. The young singer was very shy and stiff at first, but his early directors helped him, and he was soon an accomplished opera actor.