Born in Catania, Italy, in 1801, a contemporary of Donizetti, Vincenzo Bellini was, at first, considered as the heir of Rossini. Yet, he was able to distance from the Rossinian example, as he strove for an ideal of virtuosity. Bellini always put first in his work the quality of the melody, the search for dramatic expression and the portrayal of emotions. His early death (he died in 1835) deprived the history of a musician who could have become Verdi's only great rival.
Raised in Naples, he studied composition with Giovanni Furno, Giacomo Tritto and Niccolo Zingarelli. He had not yet completed his studies when he created a small opera entitled Adelson e Salvini (1825) on the conservatory stage. Almost immediately he was commissioned to write Bianca e Fernando (1826) for the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. The piece was so well received that Bellini was immediately invited to compose Il pirata (1827) for La Scala in Milan, which was a great success.
Bellini went on to compose La straniera (The Foreign Woman), Zaira and I Capuleti e i Montecchi (1830). His fame was already growing when he returned to Milan to give La sonnambula, which earned him an international reputation. At the end of that same year, and again in Milan, he had his masterpiece Norma performed.
In 1833 Beatrice de Tende was premiered in Venice and it was then that, thanks to Rossini's influence, he was commissioned to compose an opera for the Théâtre-Italien in Paris. He settled in Puteaux, where he wrote I puritani, performed in 1835 to great acclaim. The composer died a few days later.
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