Historical figure Gaetano Donizetti

Born in: 1797  - Died in: 1848
Domenico Gaetano Maria Donizetti was an Italian composer, famous above all as an opera artist. He wrote more than seventy works, as well as numerous compositions of sacred and chamber music. The Donizetti's most frequently performed operas in theaters all over the world are L'elisir d'amore, Lucia di Lammermoor and Don Pasquale. The fille du régiment, La Favorite, the Maria Stuarda, the Anna Bolena, the Lucrezia Borgia and the Roberto Devereux are also frequently set up.
Born in Bergamo on 29 November 1797 from a humble family (father guardian of Monte dei Pegni and mother weaver), he was admitted to the charitable lessons of music held by Giovanni Simone (Johann Simon) Mayr and Francesco Salari - from whom current Higher Institute of Musical Studies "Gaetano Donizetti" (the conservatory of Bergamo) -, and soon showed a remarkable talent, managing to remedy the modest quality of the voice (it was necessary to perform well the service of singer in order to continue the free courses) with progress in the study of music.
It was precisely the Mayr to open to the beloved student the chances of success, taking care of the training first and then entrusting it to the care of Stanislao Mattei. In Bologna, where he continued his musical studies, Donizetti wrote his first theatrical work, Il Pigmalione, which will be represented posthumously, and interesting instrumental and sacred compositions. Here, among the other friends, he was able to link himself to the musician and patriot Piero Maroncelli, from Forlì.
Again Maestro Mayr, together with his friend Bartolomeo Merelli, procured him the first writing for an opera at the Teatro San Luca in Venice: Enrico di Borgogna will be on stage on November 19, 1818.

After the Venetian experience, the composer was in Rome, at the impresario Paterni, as a substitute for the Mayr. On the little happy book by Merelli (Donizetti would have called it "a great cagnara"), wrote the Zoraida di Granata, which would have been revised two years later, with the help of Ferretti. At the end of the work he went to Naples, to supervise the execution of the Italia del Mayr, an oratory directed by Gioachino Rossini.
Following the manager's escape with Colbran, the Barbaja impresario assumed Donizetti, who debuted on May 12, 1822 with La zingara, a semi-serious opera on a libretto by Tottola. In the room was Vincenzo Bellini, who was admired by the contrapuntal writing of the week, but which later did not return the profound esteem Donizetti had for him.
This period was characterized by numerous farces. The anonymous letter, staged in June 1822 at the Teatro del Fondo, attracted the attention of the critics, who appreciated the mastery with which Donizetti had faced the funny Neapolitan genre.
The contract with the Barbaja engaged him for four works a year. Immediately after the representation of Alfredo the Great, he put his hand to Fortunato deception, theatrical satire inspired by the precedents of Benedetto Marcello (The fashionable theater, 1720) and Carlo Goldoni (The comic theater, 1750), which was for Donizetti a preparatory exercise for the conveniences and theatrical inconveniences of 1827, partly already mentioned in the character of Flagiolet of the Anonymous Letter.
The libretto of this work was the first that Donizetti wrote for himself. The composer had a period of crisis, which he overcame thanks to the collaboration of Jacopo Ferretti, who helped him to outline a personal style. Friendship and professional collaboration with Ferretti lasted for a long time, arousing in him the taste for the word and reassuring him on the possibility of writing booklets even by himself.
In the same years he had to worry about the maintenance of his wife Virginia, married in 1828, and had the pain of losing his firstborn son. The production was sometimes a bit 'conventional.

It was in 1830, with Anna Bolena, written in just thirty days for the Teatro Carcano of Milan, that Donizetti had its first major international success, showing full artistic maturity. A curious detail: after the success of the Anna Bolena, the Mayr addressed him as "maestro". The relationship of affection and esteem between the two composers remained firm until death.
From then on, Donizetti's professional life continued to flourish, even if the flasks were not lacking, intertwined with family events that did not spare him any pain, often in moments of greater glory and success.
On July 31, 1830 there was the premiere of the cantata The desired return for the text by Domenico Gilardoni with Luigia Boccabadati, Antonio Tamburini and Luigi Lablache at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples.
In 1832, after the failure of the Ugo, Count of Paris, the Milanese audience of the Teatro della Cannobiana (today's Teatro Lirico) applauded L'elisir d'amore, with a libretto by Felice Romani, from a play by Eugène Scribe. The following year, again in Milan, the Lucrezia Borgia was successfully presented, for which Donizetti anticipated a new orchestra arrangement: the one to which one still uses today, with the bows arranged in a semicircle before the podium.
He then received from Rossini the invitation to write a work for the Théâtre des Italiens in Paris: the Marin Faliero was born, on a libretto by Bidera (from Byron), rearranged by Ruffini, which was staged on 12 March 1835, without success .
Two months had passed since the performance of Vincenzo Bellini's Puritans, when Lucia di Lammermoor's staging on the Milanese competition of 1832 between Fausta and Norma took place. The esteem between Bellini and Donizetti was by no means reciprocal: the former did not spare fierce criticism from the second, who instead always admired the music of Catania (Bellini died in that year, and Donizetti wrote for him a Mass of Requiem).
At the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, of which he was artistic director from 1822 to 1838, Donizetti presented seventeen works in first performance, including his masterpiece, Lucia di Lammermoor. The first of Lucia, on verses by Salvadore Cammarano, was a triumph. Donizetti's masterpiece is no exception: it too was written in very short times (thirty-six days). The following year the Belisarius was applauded to the Phoenix, but the year was marred by the death of his father, mother and second daughter. Two years later, the third daughter and wife, who died of cholera on July 30, 1837, would also be missing.
They were moments of total despair ("Without a father, without a mother, without a wife, without children ... for whom do I work? ... Everything, all I lost"), but Donizetti never stopped working, composing in these years both funny works and romantic dramas such as Roberto Devereux and Maria de Rudenz.
Late maturity
Soon the Donizetti decided to leave Naples: the problems with the censorship for Poliuto (which eventually did not go on stage, and was represented only after the composer's death) and the failed appointment as director of the conservatory (of which he was actual conductor ) certainly confirmed him in his intentions, and in October 1838 he was already in Paris. Here was his friend Michele Accursi, a papal spy, who had also worked to encourage his coming.
In those years his works were represented everywhere, both in translation and in the original language, at the Théâtre des Italiens. He wrote La fille du régiment, which debuted at the Opéra comique in February 1840, and prepared a French version of Poliuto, entitled Les martyrs.
The following year he wrote La Favorita, recycling pages of a work never completed: L'ange du Nisida. He also received the important appointment as a knight of the order of St. Sylvester by Pope Gregory XVI. But it was Rossini's invitation to direct the execution of the Stabat Mater in Bologna the most significant event. So, thanks to a recommendation for Metternich penned by Rossini himself, Donizetti left for Vienna, where he presented Linda of Chamounix on May 19th.

It was now reached 1843, the year of composition of Don Pasquale. The libretto, prepared by Giovanni Ruffini on the basis of Ser Marcantonio dell'Anelli, was heavily reworked by Donizetti, to the point that the author withdrew the signature: the work was for a long time attributed to Michele Accursio. The signature "M. A." instead it stands for "anonymous teacher". Meanwhile Donizetti took charge of the French representation of the Linda of Chamounix and finished the Maria di Rohan: these were the last moments of great creative fervor, then the disease prevailed. At the Teatro Nuovo (Naples) on October 5, 1843 the first premiere of the lieder Farewell brunetta takes place, I am already far away, on 28 December of the romance Malvina la bella, on 22 February 1844 of the barcarola Sovra the oar is curved, on 4 April of the romance to you around jokes and May 2 of the song Who did not tell me one day.
Dom Sebastien, who met with great success in Paris, and Caterina Cornaro, who was whistled, with great disappointment of Donizetti, in Naples, came from the master's pen. Then the madness, caused by syphilis, had him locked up in the asylum of Ivry-sur-Seine, from which he only emerged a few months before his death. His tomb is located in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (Bergamo).

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