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Donizetti, Gaetano


Opera composer; b. Bergamo, Italy, Nov. 29, 1797;d. Bergamo, April 8, 1848. He studied music in Bergamo with Mayr and in Bologna with Pilotti and Mattei. While he was serving in the Austrian army, his first opera, Enrico di Borgogna, was performed in Venice (1818). He subsequently composed operas in rapid succession for various theaters throughout Europe, attaining international stature with Anna Bolena (Milan 1830). Though appointed in 1835 professor of counterpoint at the Royal College of Music in Naples, he settled in Paris in 1839. During a visit to Vienna in 1842, he wrote for the royal court two settings of the Ave Maria, a Miserere, two Masses, and a Requiem (for Bellini), in a "severe style," that was warmly received by German critics of the time. He composed also various cantatas; songs; and piano, orchestral, and chamber works. The most popular of his 64 operas are Lucia di Lammermoor, La Favorita, La Fille du régiment (an opéra comique ), L'Elisir d'amore, and Don Pasquale (in buffa style). In spite of their dramatic and musical shortcomings, these works merit occasional revival because of their graceful melodies and the opportunity they offer for vocal virtuosity. The last few years of Donizetti's life were marred by mental and physical illness. He is buried in S. Maria Maggiore, Bergamo, where a monument by Vela was erected to his memory in 1855.

Bibliography: g. zavadini, Donizetti (Bergamo 1948). g. barblan, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. f. blume (Kassel-Basel 1949 ) 3:678684. h. s. edwards et al., Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. e. blom, 9 v. (5th ed. London 1954) 2:733736. d. j. grout, A Short History of Opera, 2 v. (2d, rev. and enl. ed. New York 1965). a. einstein, Music in the Romantic Era (New York 1947). j. s. allitt, Donizetti in the Light of Romanticism and the Teaching of Johann Simon Mayr (Shaftesbury 1991). w. ashbrook, "The Evolution of the Donizettian Tenor-Persona," Opera Quarterly 14/3 (1998) 2532; "(Domenico) Gaetano (Maria) Donizetti," in International Dictionary of Opera, ed. c. s. larue, 2 v. (Detroit 1993) 354359. h. berlioz, "Berlioz on the Premiere of La Favorite, " introduced and tr. by e. t. glasow, Opera Quarterly, 14/3 (1998) 3343. r. celletti, "Il vocalismo Italiano da Rossini a Donizetti, Parte II: Bellini e Donizetti," Analecta Musicologia 7 (1969) 223247. c. p. d. cronin, "Stefano Pavesi's Ser Marcantonio and Donizetti's Don Pasquale, " Opera Quarterly 11/2 (1995) 3953. a. fischler, "Gilbert and Donizetti," Opera Quarterly 11/1 (1995) 2942. l. zoppelli, "Narrative Elements in Donizetti's Operas," Opera Quarterly 10/1 (1993) 2332.

[r. w. lowe]

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