Short-lived composer Vincenzo Bellini is most greatly remembered for writing operas which were not only noted for their expression, feeling, and flowing melodies, but were also a prime example of the bel canto style. He was highly praised for his ability to create a close and natural bond between his music and the libretto. Bellini’s output was small compared to other composers of the time, but he strove for quality over quantity, to ensure that his every note made an impact.
Most notable works
Il pirate (1827)
I Capuleti e I Montecchi (1830)
La sonnambula (1831)
I puritani (1835)
A life in brief
1801 – Vincenzo Bellini is born in Catania, Sicily, the eldest of seven children. Raised in a musical household, his father is a composer and teacher.
1816 – Now living with and taking lessons from his grandfather, also a talented composer and organist, he starts composing his own works.
1819 – He receives a scholarship to the Real Collegio di Musica in Naples. He often visits the local opera and is awed by performances of Rossini’s Semiramide and Donizetti’s La zingara.
1826 – His opera Bianca e Fernando receives its premiere at Naples’s Teatro San Carlo, before being renamed Bianca e Gernando to avoid any allusions to the reigning prince.
1828 – He begins an affair with Giuditta Turina, the wife of a rich Milanese silk manufacturer. The affair continues, on and off, for around five years.
1833 – After the success of Norma, the premiere of his Beatrice di Tenda receives a cool response. Bellini’s frustration at his librettist Felice Romani’s consistent lateness leads to a rift.
1835 – He dies in Puteaux after several weeks of illness. Rossini is a pall-bearer at his funeral and also acts as executor of the estate. Bellini is buried in Catania.