The Romantic Era
Bergamo | Donizetti’s hometown
Gaetano Donizetti, was born in Bergamo on November 29th 1797. Bergamo, city with a rich and interesting history started even before the Romans with the Celts, is located not far from Milan in the same metropolitan area, only 30 km away from lakes Como and Iseo and also close to the Alps, which foothills begin right on its north side.
Donizetti | Elisir d’Amore and the magic of Italian borghi
Elisir d’amore is Donizetti’s first opera to show his full mastery of the comic style. Arias like “Adina believe me” and the most famous “A furtive tear” are pieces in which Donizetti not simply suggests emotions but gives body to their very essence thanks to a music of universal, immortal power. The story is set at the end of eighteenth century, in a country village.
Donizetti | Triumph and death
Donizetti moves to Paris in 1834-1835 called, along with Bellini, by Rossini in his capacity as co-director of the Théâtre Italien. In 1843 the first symptoms of a brain disease that rapidly and progressively got worse to degenerate during the summer 1845. Subsequent medical treatments made the situation irreparable and in February 1846 the composer was interned in an institution for mentally ill in Paris.
Donizetti | The Romantic epitome
At the beginning of his carrier, Donizetti writes mainly for the small theatres in Venice. Every new work by the young maestro was welcomed and praised by the press, as an original new development of Rossini’s style. Anna Bolena and L’Elisir d’Amore both premiered in Milan on librettos by Felice Romani, finally launched Donizetti as one of the most prominent European opera composers. These two masterpieces are the first of a list of milestones written by Donizetti that mark the history of romantic Italian theatre.
Donizetti and Romantic opera
Bellini’s premature death allowed finally Donizetti to take the title of “Main Italian composer” left vacant by Rossini a decade before. On the other end, his sickness and death spared him the humiliation of being ousted again by the irresistible rise of Verdi.
Vincenzo Bellini | La Sonnambula
La Sonnambula was a complete triumph, since its premiere. The newspapers wrote of “a melody that goes to the heart, an instrumentation always beautiful and well built” and reported of “endless applauses”. The story revolves around the character of Amina, the archetypal of the slandered innocent.
Bellini | A love and death story I Capuleti e i Montecchi
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.
The short life of Vincenzo Bellini
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”.
Catania | Bellini the Sicilian
Vincenzo Bellini maintained throughout his life a strong bond with his hometown, where he lived till the age of 16. Some argue that his rejection for rules and rutine resulted somehow from that archaic and provincial world. Born to “seduce and conquest” Bellini indeed broke into the Italian musical lands cape as someone coming from another world. May be that’s part of the reason why he was able unveil and unleash the potential of musical drama, far and beyond the traditional bonds and cliché of the Neapolitan school.
Bellini | Manifesto of Italian romantic opera
Locked in my room, I recite the characters’ parts passionately and study my voice: its inflections, the tempo and pauses, in short the emphasis a man uses when he’s at the mercy of his passions. I then identify the right tempo and melody in order to allow the singers to express those passions by the means of harmony. I put the ideas on paper, try them on the harpsichord. When I feel the same emotion I wanted to express I judge I have succeeded; if I don’t, I look again for inspiration until I feel I’ve achieved my goal”.
The genesis of Italian Romantic Opera
The protagonists of romantic operas live love differently than those of the eighteenth-century repertoire. For them love is a complete emotional enrapture. They share this incontrollable passion with a public who generally has a more ordinary life and now, through this new music drama, can experience a total emotional involvement.