Fernando de Lucia was one of the bridges between nineteenth and twentieth century styles, a link that is reflected, appropriately enough, in his career. He began his career as a lyric tenor, verging on tenore di grazia, but by the end of the century he was well established as a verismo tenor. He also taught some of the most prominent tenors of the first half of the twentieth century, including Ivan Petroff, Enzo de Muro Lomanto, and Georges Thill. Like his contemporary Enrico Caruso (he sang at Caruso's funeral), he had an almost baritonal timbre and rather limited top, and particularly in his verismo roles he was most often compared to Caruso.
He studied voice at the Naples Conservatory, where his teachers included Vincenzo Lombardi. His opera debut was in the title role of Gounod's Faust in 1885 at the Teatro San Carlo. In 1887, he made his London debut at the Drury Lane Theatre, though his London triumphs were not to come until 1893 and his Covent Garden debut as Canio in Leoncavallo's Pagliacci. This established him as a favorite at that house. 1893 also marked his Metropolitan Opera debut, though he sang only one season there. His verismo roles had taken a toll on his voice and by 1909, he had greatly reduced his stage appearances. He gave his last performance, in the title role of Mascagni's L'amico Fritz, in 1917, though he continued to make recordings. Though many of these show some wear on his voice and much of the material was transposed down, even the late recordings show his profound sense of musical style in both the bel canto and verismo schools.