Historical figure Vincenzo Bellini

Born in: 1801  - Died in: 1835
Vincenzo Bellini, descendant of a family of musicians, was born in Catania and has shown an exceptional talent for music from an early age. At the Conservatory of Naples, where he entered in 1819 thanks to a grant from the Municipality of Catania, his teacher Nicola Antonio Zingarelli instilled in him a love (never disowned by Bellini) for the melody understood as a fundamental element of the musical discourse. At the end of his studies he was commissioned a work for the San Carlo theater in Naples. The success of Bianca and Gernando (later transformed into Bianca and Fernando) is discreet: Domenico Barbaja, the manager of the theater (and member of the management committee of La Scala), gives him a writing in Milan. On 27 October 1827 he debuted at La Scala The pirate, a melodrama in 2 acts (with a libretto by Felice Romani, later a close collaborator of Bellini) which was a great success. It is a work that is still immature, but some melodic glimpses already reveal the master of "bel canto". Sympathetic, brilliant, physically attractive, Bellini quickly conquers the Milanese environment and is often a guest of noble families. It is soon possible to come up with very advantageous contracts and success allows him to compose carefully, without nagging deadlines. His next work La straniera, is staged at the Scala in Milan on February 14, 1829 and is received with great favor. An even greater success grants the lyric drama in 2 acts I Capuleti ei Montecchi, represented at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice on 11 March 1830. In these works emerges his love for the soft and sensual melody and for an orchestral conduct that (although not being particularly innovative) emphasizes in a concise and passionate way the climate and the pathos of the events. 1831 is the year of the meeting with Giuditta Pasta, the most acclaimed soprano of the moment, one of the most celebrated voices of the entire opera history. She is the one who gives voice to Bellini's masterpieces: in March La sonnambula (applauded by the audience of the Teatro Carcano in Milan) and in December, Norma (alla Scala). As often happens to the brilliant works, Norma is initially a fiasco. The listeners find it hard to find the melodic cantabile that Bellini has accustomed them to and the more severe, neoclassical drama of the opera perplexes the audience. But in the course of subsequent replies Norma not only captures the favors of the listeners, but asserts itself as the masterpiece of its author, summarizing, in a marvelous balance, the lyrical purity of the song with the passion and drama of the prevailing romanticism, elements also expressed on the solemnity of the choir's interventions. Bellini's fame crosses national borders. In 1833 he arrived in London, where in a few weeks Giuditta Pasta interpreted Pirata, Norma and Capuleti, while Sonnambula was entrusted to the legendary Maria Malibran. From London he moved to Paris, the capital of European opera. Here he comes into contact with the most advanced currents of the music of the time and remains particularly impressed by Beethoven's symphonies, but he believes that too much attention is paid to the instrumental aspect at the expense of the voice. Contrary to his deep-rooted conviction, I Puritani ei Cavalieri (the work he is working on and with which he wants to show the full value of Italian melody) turns out to be his best instrumented work, a clear sign of the assimilation of the breathing atmosphere in Parisian territory. The performance of the opera is held at the Theater Italien in Paris on 24 January 1835 and is a real triumph. But in the summer of 1836, Bellini suddenly fell ill. Abandoned by his guests, perhaps fearful of contagion, the composer relies on the care of a poorly qualified doctor. He dies at the end of September, in total solitude, probably of hepatitis.

Vincenzo Bellini Visited places

Teatro La Fenice

 Campo San Fantin, 1965 - 30124 Venezia - Venice

The Teatro La Fenice, one of the largest in Italy, was created by Antonio Selva from 1790. Repeatedly destroyed and risen from its ashes like the mythological bird whose name it bears, it is today... see

Time period

Italy, Venice