Italian composer of operas. He worked with the tenor Giovanni Battista Rubini (1794–1854) to develop lyrical melodic lines, and his operas contain superbly crafted dramatic tension often with potentially tragic themes, as in La sonnambula/The Sleepwalker and Norma (both 1831). In I puritani/The Puritans (1835), his last work, he discovered a new boldness and vigour of orchestral effect.
His popularity after his death was enormous, but his operas later fell into neglect. Since World War II, however, singers including Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland, and Montserrat Caballé, have helped to restore their popularity.
Bellini was born in Catania, Sicily. A Sicilian nobleman helped his father, an organist, to send him to study with Niccolò Zingarelli at the Naples Conservatory, where he met Gaetano Donizetti and Saverio Mercadante. His first opera, Adelson e Salvini, was produced in 1825, while he was still a student; it attracted the attention of Domenico Barbaia, who commissioned him to write a second, Bianca e Gernando, produced at the Teatro San Carlo in 1826. Its success induced Barbaia to ask for another opera (Il pirata/The Pirate) for La Scala, Milan. It was produced there in 1827 with Giovanni Battista Rubini in the cast. It was also successfully performed in Paris, and three other operas followed, at Milan, Parma, and Venice, before Bellini attained full maturity in La sonnambula/The Sleepwalker, brought out at Milan in 1831, with Maria Malibran as the heroine. Norma followed in December of the same year, with Giuditta Pasta in the title role. This opera marks Bellini's style at its best, with its long and lyrical melodic line and superbly crafted dramatic tension.
In 1833 Bellini went to London and Paris, where Gioacchino Antonio Rossini advised him to write a work for the Théâtre Italien. This was I puritani/The Puritans, produced there in 1835, with Giulia Grisi, Rubini, Antonio Tamburini, and Luigi Lablache in the cast; it was brought to London the same year for Grisi's benefit performance. Bellini went to stay with an English friend at Puteaux, at whose house he was taken ill and died.
WorksOperaAdelson e Salvini (1825), Bianca e Gernando (1826), Il pirata/The Pirate (1827), La straniera/The Stranger (1829), Zaira (1829), I Capuleti e i Montecchi/The Capulets and the Montagues (1830, based on Shakespeare's sources for Romeo and Juliet), La sonnambula/The Sleepwalker (1831), Norma (1831), Beatrice di Tenda (1833), I puritani/The Puritans (1835).
Other church music; songs; symphonies.
Related Credo Articles
Composer; b. Catania, Sicily, Nov. 3, 1801; d. Puteaux, near Paris, Sep. 23, 1835. Son and grandson of composers; studied with his grandfather...
1801-35 Italian operatic composer Born in Catania, Sicily, he was an organist's son, and was sent by a Sicilian nobleman to the San Sebastians Conser
Italian opera composer Vincenzo Bellini chose to write primarily in one medium, the lyric theater, paralleling his contemporaries Gaetano...