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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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.
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.