I Capuleti e i Montecchi is considered by many Bellini’s first masterpiece. It certainly recalls in many ways the great belcanto era, particularly in the way the roles are organized: the mezzo-soprano as male protagonist, the soprano as his lover, the tenor as the hero’s rival, bass and bariton respectively as the noble father and the tyrant. However, Capuleti is not strictly a belcanto opera because of its intimate and at times dramatic atmosphere. So much so that the many embellishments, counterbalanced by a well-defined melodic core, are not ornamentation anymore but start to take an expressive connotation.
La Serva Padrona, composed on a libretto by Gennaro Antonio Federico in 1733, is an intermezzo divided into two interludes. It was originally designed to be performed between the acts of the opera seria Il prigioniero superbo by Pergolesi himself, staged at the Teatro San Bartolomeo in Naples on the occasion of the birthday of the empress Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick, wife of the emperor Charles VI and mother of the empress Marie Therese of Augsburg. That very same libretto had been used by almost every composer in Naples and therefore was already popular in a number of successful versions. The definition of believable characters and the solid realism of the short story, revolving almost entirely around the characters’ psychology made of the libretto a success. Pergolesi’s genius turned it into a masterpiece.
Bellini met in Milan an artist who will be fundamental in his career: the librettist Felice Romani, the greatest theatrical poet of his time. Their cooperation lasted for 6 years and Romani, who wrote something like 90 librettos, created for and with Bellini some of his best ones. Bellini was actively involved not only in shaping the subjects but also in writing the verses, to insure the effective delivery of his idea through word and music simultaneously.In Milan Bellini met an artist who was going to be fundamental in his career, the greatest theatrical poet of his time: librettist Felice Romani. Their cooperation lasted for 6 years. Romani, who wrote something like 90 librettos, created for and with Bellini some of his best ones. The first opera produced through this collaboration was Il Pirata The Pirate, an opera that completely electrified the audience in Milan on October 27th 1827, night of the premiere. The newspapers titled “the start of Italian Romantic opera”.