Born in Bergamo in 1797, Gaetano Donizetti played a central role between Rossini and Verdi. Less influenced by the Romanticism than Bellini, and despite an easy and mostly excessively large work (more than sixty operas composed between 1816 and 1843, most of which have been forgotten since), Donizetti forged the bond between too artistic trends to which Italy owes its most authentic masterpieces.
He first studied at the Musical School of Bergamo with Simon Mayr and, with the help of his teacher who quickly noticed his talent, had his first opera, Enrico di Borgogna, staged in 1818. His Zoraide di Granata had a remarkable success in 1822. Donizetti was then commissioned for a series of operas, making the artist a full-time composer. From 1822 to 1830, he wrote no less than 26 operas.
His first genuine triumph came with Anna Bolena (1830). Bellini’s death and Rossini’s early retirement contributed to Donizetti’s growing fame in Europe. He composed Les Martyrs, La Favorite and Dom Sebastian for the Paris Opera; La Fille du régiment for the Opéra Comique; and Linda di Chamounix and Maria di Rohan for the Vienna Opera. His last great masterpiece, Don Pasquale, was premiered in 1843 at the Théâtre des Italien, in Paris.
While he was at the peak of his fame, his health deteriorated rapidly. Hospitalised in Ivry, France, in 1846, he died in 1848 in his native city of Bergamo after being diagnosed with cerebro-spinal syphilis. His operas that have gone down in history also include L’elisir d’amore (1832), Lucrèce Borgia (1833), Lucia di Lammermoor (1835), Maria Stuarda (1835), Roberto Devereux (1837), Maria di Rudenz (1838) and Caterina Cornaro (1844).
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