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Life of
Gaetano Donizetti
Italian opera composer
(1797-1848)



The composer of "Lucia di Lammermoor," an opera produced in 1835, but seemingly with a long lease of life yet ahead of it, was born at Bergamo, November 29, 1797. He composed nearly seventy operas.

His first real success. "Anna Bolena," was brought out in Rome, in 1830. Even before that, however, thirty-one operas by him had been performed. Of his many works, the comparatively few still heard nowadays are, in the order of their production, "L’Elisire d’Amore," "Lucrezia Borgia," "Lucia di Lammermoor," "La Figlia del Reggimento," "La Favorita," "Linda di Chamounix," and "Don Pasquale." A clever little one-act comedy-opera, "Il Campanello do Notte" (The Night Bell) was revived in New York in the spring of 1917).

With a gift for melody as facile as Bellini’s, Donizetti is more dramatic, his harmonization less monotonous, and his orchestration more careful. This is shown by his choice of instruments for special effects, like the harp solo preceding the appearance of Lucia, the flute obligato in the mad scene in the opera of which she is the heroine, and the bassoons introducing "Una furtiva lagrima," in "L’Elisire d’Amore." He is a distinct factor in the evolution of Italian opera from Rossini to and including Verdi, from whom, in turn, the living Italian opera composers of note derive.

Donizetti’s father was a weaver, who wished his son to become a lawyer. But he finally was permitted to enter the conservatory at Bergamo, where, among other teachers, he had J. H. Mayr in harmony. He studied further, on Mayr’s recommendation, with Padre Martini.

As his father wanted him to teach so that he would be self-supporting, he enlisted in the army, and was ordered to Venice. There in his leisure moments he composed his first opera, "Enrico di Borgogna," produced, Venice, 1818. In 1845 he was stricken with paralysis. He died at Bergamo, April 8, 1848.





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