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Classical Composers A-Z: Gaetano Donizette

Peter Wintersgill tells us something of the Italian composer Gaetano Donizette who wrote dozens of operas.

Born
29th November, 1797, in Bergamo near Milan.

Childhood
Taught by Mayr in Bergamo and by Padre Martini in Bologna.

Adolescence
Joined the Austrian Army because of parental opposition to a musical career.

Adult Life
He wrote nearly 70 operas and very little else. His first opera, Enlico di Borgogna (1818), drew attention to him locally. The second, La Zingara (1822) really established him; he became known all over Italy. Anna Bolena (1830), which premiered in Milan, spread his fame abroad as well. His comic opera Lucretia Borgia (1833) and, after his move to Paris, La Fille du Regiment (1840) were other successes.

Later still came Maria Stuarda (1834), his masterpiece Lucia di Lammermor (1835) with its well-known mad scene, and the comedy L’Elisor d’Amore.

He wrote at great speed; the last act of La Favolita was completed in four hours. He also wrote church music, eg. Requiem and Ave Maria, as well as string quartets and orchestral works.

He died in Bergamo, 8th April, 1848, aged 50 of cerebral syphilis.

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