Gaetano Donizetti

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Gaetano Donizetti

Gaetano Donizetti , whose full name was Domenico Gaetano Maria Donizetti (Bergamo, Lombardy, November 29, 1797-ibid, April 8, 1848), was a Italian composer very prolific, known for his operas L’elisir d’amore, which contains the famous aria Una furtiva lagrima; Lucia di Lammermoor, inspired by Walter Scott’s novel; Don Pasquale; The favourite; and The daughter of the regiment.

Although his repertoire of composer covers a large number of genres, including religious music, string quartets and orchestral works, he is especially known for his lyrical work, composing up to 75 operas.

Gaetano_Donizetti’s Biography

The youngest of five brothers, Donizetti was born in 1797 in a suburban area of ​​Bergamo, Borgo Canale, located near the city limits. His family was very poor, without musical tradition. His father was the concierge of the village pawn shop. However, Donizetti received some musical instruction from Johann Simon Mayr, parish priest of the main church of Bergamo, who was also a composer of successful operas.

Donizetti was a child singer, although without the greatest relevance; however in 1806 he was one of the first pupils in the Lezioni Caritatevoli school, founded by Simon Mayr in Bergamo, thanks to a scholarship. He received comprehensive training in the arts of flight and counterpoint, and it was here that he began his operatic career. After some minor compositions under the commission of Paolo Zanca, Donizetti wrote his fourth opera, Zoraïda di Granata. This work impressed Domenico Barbaia, a prominent theater administrator, who offered him a contract to compose in the city of Naples. Writing also in Rome and Milan, Donizetti achieved some success (his 75 operas written in the space of only 12 years were almost always popular successes, but in general the critics were not so favorable), but he was not known in the international arena until the year 1830, when his Anna Bolena was awarded in Milan. Almost instantaneously he became famous throughout Europe. L’elisir d’amore, a comedy produced in 1832, came shortly after, and is considered one of the masterpieces of comic opera, such as his Don Pasquale, written in 1843. Shortly after L’elisir d’amore, Donizetti composed Lucia di Lammermoor, based on Sir Walter Scott’s novel, The Bride of Lammermoor. This became his most famous opera, and one of the highest teachings of the bel canto tradition.

After the success achieved with Lucrezia Borgia (1833) and his reputation consolidated, Donizetti followed the route of Rossini and Bellini when marching towards Paris, but his work Marino Falerio was compared with I Puritani, and he returned to Naples to produce his work teacher already mentioned, Lucia di Lammermoor. As Donizetti’s popularity grew, his commitments increased, and he was hired to write in France and Italy. In 1843 he moved to Paris, after the Italian censor objected to the production of Poliuto (based on the fact that such a sacred subject was inappropriate for the stage). There he wrote La fille du régiment, which became another hit.

Donizetti’s wife, Virginia Vasselli, gave birth to three children, of whom none survived. Within a year of the death of his parents, his wife, who was cholera victim, also died. By 1843 Donizetti showed symptoms of syphilis. After being admitted in 1845, he was sent to Paris, where he could be treated. After receiving the visit of several friends, including Giuseppe Verdi, Donizetti returned to Bergamo, his native town, where he died in 1848, in the house of the noble family Scotti, after several years of being a prisoner of madness. He was buried in the Valtesse cemetery, although at the end of the 19th century his body was transferred to Bergamo, to the Basilica of Santa María la Mayor, near the tomb of his teacher Johann Simon Mayr.

His older brother Giuseppe Donizetti was appointed in 1828, in Istanbul, director of military music at the court of Sultan Mahmud II (1808-1839).

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