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Bellini, Vincenzo

Vincenzo Bellini
Vincenzo Bellini (Catania, 3-11-1801 – Puteaux, 23-9-1835). Son of Rosario, choirmaster, and nephew of Vincenzo Tobia (a pupil of Jommelli and Piccinni, he wrote the opera La figlia dello svevo Adolfo, oratories and sacred music).

At the age of three he began to play the piano and at six to write sacred music. Having received a scholarship, in 1819 he went to Naples, where he became a pupil of Furno and Tritto, then of Zingarelli, and where he met Mercadante and Florimo. His first opera, Adelson e Salvini, was performed in the conservatory theater in 1825: it was well received by Donizetti and it was repeated every Sunday for a whole year. The unfortunate idyll with Maddalena Fumatoli dates back to this time. The Conservatory, meanwhile, engaged him for an opera to be performed at S. Carlo, Bianca and Fernando, which, changed into Bianca and Gernando to avoid the homonymy with the king, received a warm welcome.

The shrewd impresario Barbaja then commissioned him a new work for La Scala, Il pirata (1827), which Meric-Lalande, Rubini and Tamburini would have interpreted. Bellini thus experienced his first major success: the most prominent Milanese families welcomed him into their cultural gatherings and Genoa invited him to inaugurate the following season of the Carlo Felice with Bianca and Fernando, remodeled for the occasion. During his stay in Genoa he met Giuditta Tutina, with whom he entered into a relationship tacitly tolerated by her husband and which he followed in Brianza where he composed La Straniera, successfully represented in Milan in 1829.

The same year Parma forced him to write a Zaira, which fell ruinously and was partly transfused into the subsequent Capuleti e Montecchi, represented in Venice in 1830. The following year saw the birth of Sonnambula and Norma, which, performed in Milan (1831, Carcano and Scala) immediately triumphed on all European scenes.

In 1833 he brought Beatrice di Tenda to Venice, which did not have the hoped-for success. After a stay in London and another Parisian (where he met Chopin, Heine and Rossini) he devoted himself to writing I Puritani for the Théâtre de la comédie italienne: after the first performance (1835) he was awarded the legion of honor and therefore the insignia of the Bourbon Academy by the King of Naples.

But in the same 1835 the intestinal pains, which had afflicted him for some time, led him to the grave. The whole musical world, Rossini and Cherubini in the lead, were moved by his death. In the Church of the Invalides, on 2 October, 350 singers conducted by Habeneck, soloists Rubini, lvanov, Tamburini, Lablache, paid their last farewell.

Photo: © Archivio Storico Ricordi