Gaetano Donizetti, classical music composer

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Gaetano Donizetti


Born on November 29, 1797, Domenico Gaetano Donizetti was the youngest of three sons born into a family of no musical aspirations. Nonetheless, he received some musical instruction from Simon Mayr, a successful German opera composer who had become maestro di cappella at the principal church in Donizetti's hometown. Though Donizetti was an unpromising choirboy, he was able to secure a full scholarship to Mayr's newly formed Lezioni Caritatevoli school where he trained as a composer until 1814. His works from these formative years include chamber operas, religious works and chamber music.

Donizetti's first substantial success as a composer of opera came with Zoraida di Granata, which drew the attention of Domenico Barbaia, a prominent theatre manager. Working in Naples, Rome and Milan, Donizetti enjoyed popular success, though rarely won critics to his side, through the 1820s yet his fame remained localized. However, the successful production of Anna Bolena in Milan suddenly put Donizetti in the international spotlight. Other masterpieces came soon afterwards including: L'elisir d'amore, recognized as one of the finest examples of 19th century opera buffa; and Lucia di Lammermoor, based on a novel by Sir Walter Scott and equal in stature to Bellini's Norma.

Following in the footsteps of Rossini, Donizetti left Naples, after being passed over for the directorship of the Naples Conservatory, and went to Paris. There he shifted from Italian opera to French opera and crafted such popular operas as La fille du RĂ©giment and La favorite with the apparent ease of a Frenchman. By 1843, Donizetti began to exhibit the symptoms of syphilis and possibly bipolar disorder. He was institutionalized in 1845 but his hold on reality gradually slipped away. He passed away on April 8, 1848.

Today, Donizetti, standing alongside Gioacchino Rossini and Vincenzo Bellini, is considered a master of the bel canto period of opera. A popular opera composer, his stage works looked forward to those of Giuseppe Verdi.

Composer Title Date Action
Gaetano Donizetti Ah! Mes Amis, from "La Fille du RĂ©giment 03/24/2009 Play Add to playlist
Gaetano Donizetti Una furtiva lagrima, from L'elisir d'amore 04/09/2009 Play Add to playlist
Gaetano Donizetti Regnava nel Silenzio 04/02/2012 Play Add to playlist
Gaetano Donizetti Mad Scene, Act III, Lucia di Lammermoor 11/25/2013 Play Add to playlist
Gaetano Donizetti Lucia di Lammermoor / Regnava nel silenzio 02/05/2015 Play Add to playlist
Gaetano Donizetti Anna Bolena, Finale of Act I (Judgement scene) 12/03/2017 Play Add to playlist