Vincenzo Bellini

Vincenzo Bellini

[buh-lee-nee; It. bel-lee-nee]
Bellini, Vincenzo, 1801-35, Italian opera composer. He acquired his musical training from his grandfather and father, and began composing religious and secular music in his childhood. His first opera, Adelson e Salvini, was successfully performed in 1825. His most celebrated works are the operas La Sonnambula and Norma (both 1831). In their profusely melodic style they exemplify the bel canto tradition of the 18th cent., and their roles demand great virtuosity of the singers. Bellini's last opera, I Puritani (1835), was influenced by the dramatic style of French grand opera. Unlike that of his immediate predecessors, Rossini and Donizetti, his operatic output was small. It was characterized by careful composition, great attention to the relationship between words and music, and an originality of harmony that gave rise to his music's sensual, ecstatic quality. He greatly influenced the work of Verdi.

See study by H. Weinstock (1971).

(born Nov. 3, 1801, Catania, Sicily—died Sept. 23, 1835, Puteaux, France) Italian composer. Born into a musical family, he was educated at the Naples Conservatory. He wrote his first opera at age 24 and went on to complete nine more before his death at age 33. The most famous are The Pirate (1827), The Capulets and the Montagues (1830), The Sleepwalker (1831), Norma (1831), and The Puritans (1835). His works, which rely strongly on beautiful vocal melody (bel canto), rivaled those of his contemporaries Gioacchino Rossini and Gaetano Donizetti in popularity.

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Vincenzo Salvatore Carmelo Francesco Bellini (November 3, 1801September 23, 1835) was a Sicilian opera composer. Known for his flowing melodic lines, Bellini was the quintessential composer of Bel canto opera.

Life

Born in Catania, Sicily, Bellini was a child prodigy from a highly musical family and legend has it he could sing an aria of Valentino Fioravanti at eighteen months, began studying music theory at two, the piano at three, and by the age of five could, apparently, play well. His first composition is said to have dated from his sixth year. Regardless of the veracity of these claims, it is certain that Bellini grew up in a musical household and that a career as a musician was never in doubt.

Having learned from his grandfather, Bellini left provincial Catania in June 1819 to study at the conservatory in Naples, with a stipend from the municipal government of Catania. By 1822 he was in the class of the director Nicolò Zingarelli, studying the masters of the Neapolitan school and the orchestral works of Haydn and Mozart. It was the custom at the Conservatory to introduce a promising student to the public with a dramatic work: the result was Bellini's first opera Adelson e Salvini an opera semiseria that was presented at the Conservatory's theater. Bellini's next opera, Bianca e Gernando, met with some success at the Teatro San Carlo, leading to an offer from the impresario Barbaia for an opera at La Scala. Il pirata was a resounding immediate success and began Bellini's faithful and fruitful collaboration with the librettist and poet Felice Romani, and cemented his friendship with his favored tenor Giovanni Battista Rubini, who had sung in Bianca e Gernando.

Bellini spent the next years, 1827–33 in Milan, where all doors were open to him. Sparking controversy in the press for its new style and its restless harmonic shifts into remote keys, La straniera (1828) was even more successful than Il pirata, and allowed Bellini to support himself solely by his opera commissions. The composer showed the taste for social life and the dandyism that Heinrich Heine emphasized in his literary portrait of Bellini (Florentinische Nächte, 1837). Opening a new theater in Parma, his Zaira (1829) was a failure at the Teatro Ducale, but Venice welcomed I Capuleti e i Montecchi, which was based on the same Italian sources as Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

The next five years were triumphant, with major successes with his greatest works, La sonnambula, Norma and I puritani, cut short by Bellini's premature death.

Bellini died in Puteaux, near Paris of acute inflammation of the intestine, and was buried in the cemetery of Père Lachaise, Paris; his remains were removed to the cathedral of Catania in 1876. The Museo Belliniano housed in the Gravina Cruyllas Palace, in Catania, preserves memorabilia and scores.

Works

Bellini's complete works are to be published in Edizione critica delle opere di Vincenzo Bellini, Milan: Ricordi 2003-

Operas

Other important Bel Canto opera composers

External links

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