Personalities | Gaetano Donizetti | Early Romantic | Classical

(Ga-a-ta’-no Don-it-set’-te) 1797–1848
Italian composer

Between the death of Bellini (1835) and the emergence of Verdi, Donizetti was the dominant figure in Italian opera. He studied with Mayr and Padre Mattei. After composing numerous apprentice operas and various sacred, orchestral and instrumental works, he had his first real success with Zoraida di Granata (‘Zoraida of Granada’, 1822), which gave him the opportunity to work in Naples. But the turning point of his career – and the opera that gave his work a truly international profile – was Anna Bolena (‘Anne Boleyn’, 1830). His subsequent operas, written with great speed, were not all successful, but Lucia di Lammermoor (1835), a cornerstone of Italian Romanticism, was a major hit in Naples.

In 1838 Donizetti moved to Paris, hoping that the greater rewards on offer would enable him to retire. However, the operas he wrote there were not wholly successful, and in 1842 he took up a post as Kapellmeister to the Austrian court in Vienna, a position that allowed him time to pursue his career elsewhere. Donizetti’s style is typical of its time and place, inevitably influenced by Rossini. His thematic vitality and sense of dramatic pacing keep his best works, including the comic operas Don Pasquale (1843) and L’elisir d’amore (‘The Elixir of Love’, 1832), firmly in the repertory.

Recommended Recording:
Lucia di Lammermoor, soloists, Royal Opera House Chorus & Orchestra (cond) Richard Bonynge (Decca)

Introduction | Early Romantic | Classical
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