Colbran, Isabella (1785–1845)

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Colbran, Isabella (1785–1845)

Spanish soprano who was greatly loved in Italy. Born in Madrid, Spain, on February 2, 1785; died in Castenaso, Bologna, on October 7, 1845; studied in Madrid with Pareja, in Naples with Marinelli and Crescentini; married Gioacchino Rossini (who wrote several operas for her), in 1822. Made debut in Spain in 1806.

Probably no one had a greater influence on Gioacchino Rossini than Isabella Colbran, the great Italian soprano. Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra (1815), Otello (1816), Armida (1817), Mosè in Egitto, Ricciardo e Zoraide (1818), Ermione, La donna del lago (1819), Maometto II (1820), and Zelmira (1822) all contained parts written to display her special vocal and dramatic gifts. Colbran lived with Rossini for a number of years before the couple married at Castenaso in 1822. In 1823, Rossini wrote Semiramide, the final opera he composed for Colbran. A year later, she and Rossini traveled to London where she appeared in Zelmira; but her reputation had outlasted her voice, and the appearance was a disaster. Colbran retired from the stage and remained married to Rossini until 1837 when the couple separated formally. A brilliant and powerful singer in her prime, Isabella Colbran was one of the most famous in Europe. She is particularly remembered, however, as a great inspiration to Rossini and her legacy lives in his operas.

suggested reading:

Stendhal. La vie de Rossini. Paris, 1824.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia

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Colbran, Isabella (1785–1845)

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