Vincenzo Bellini, classical music composer

Vincenzo Bellini


Vincenzo Bellini was born into an exceedingly musical family on November 3rd, 1801 in Catania, Sicily. A child prodigy, it said that he began studying music theory at the age of two, piano at three, and was composing his first pieces by age six. Whether or not these stories are true, Bellini was nevertheless a talented child with a successful career in music almost certain. Indeed, he became one of the archetypes of the bel canto era of Italian opera and developed a reputation for meticulous craftsmanship. His flowing melodies earned him the nickname, "the Swan of Catania."

With the help of a stipend from the municipal government of Catania, Bellini went to study at the Naples Conservatory in 1819 where he studied the masters of the Neapolitan school and the orchestral works of Haydn and Mozart.  His first opera, Adelson e Salvini, was premiered at the Conservatory in February 1825. The work was popular among the Conservatory's students and was afterwards performed every Sunday for a year. It also drew the attention of the impresario Domenico Barbaja, who commissioned Bellini for another opera. The premiere of Bianca e Gernando at the Teatro San Carlo was only somewhat successful and is rarely heard in modern times. Bellini's next opera, Il pirata, however, cemented his fame as an opera composer. Premiered at La Scala on October 27th, 1827, the opera was an international success and marked the beginning of a productive collaboration between Bellini and the librettist Felice Romani.

With his growing reputation and experience, Bellini concentrated on craftsmanship, ensuring the highest quality of his work, rather than composing as many operas as possible. For this reason, he was able to demand higher prices for his works. Settling in Milan in 1827, the following years were both productive and successful. La straniera, despite causing a stir among critics for its harmonic style, was an even grander success than Il pirata. Other successes followed including, I Capuleti e I Montecchi which is based on the same source as Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, La sonnambula, Norma and I puritani. The only outright failure during these years was Zaira, which was written in haste and without Bellini's usual careful hand.

The summer of 1883 Bellini spent in London directing performances of his operas. Following his time in the British capital, he traveled to Paris where he composed and premiered I puritani. In spite of the enthusiastic response the opera received from the French public, Bellini's life was tragically cut short. Succumbing to an acute inflammation of the intestine, he died in Peteaux, outside of Paris, on September 22nd, 1835. He was buried in Paris but in 1876 his remains were moved to the cathedral in his hometown of Catalina.

Composer Title Date Action
Vincenzo Bellini Ah! Per sempre io ti perdei, from I Puritani 03/21/2009 Play Add to playlist
Vincenzo Bellini Malinconia, Ninfa gentile 01/19/2009 Play Add to playlist
Vincenzo Bellini Vaga luna, che inargenti 01/08/2009 Play Add to playlist
Vincenzo Bellini Casta Diva, from Norma 10/29/2012 Play Add to playlist
Vincenzo Bellini Care compaggne, et voi, teneri amici and Come per me sereno, from La Sonnambula 10/28/2013 Play Add to playlist
Vincenzo Bellini Mira, o Norma, from Act II of Norma 11/04/2013 Play Add to playlist
Vincenzo Bellini A Te, O Cara, from Act I of I Puritani 11/04/2013 Play Add to playlist
Vincenzo Bellini la sonnambula 01/21/2015 Play Add to playlist
Vincenzo Bellini Il Pirata, final scene 10/30/2016 Play Add to playlist