Italian composer. He wrote more than 70 operas, including Lucrezia Borgia (1833), Lucia di Lammermoor (1835), La Fille du régiment (1840), La Favorite (1840), and Don Pasquale (1843). They show the influence of Gioacchino Rossini and Vincenzo Bellini, and his ability to create a good tune is heard in his expressive melodies.
Donizetti studied at Bergamo and at the Liceo Filarmonico in Bologna. He entered the army to avoid following his father's trade (caretaker of the municipal pawnshop), and while in Venice in 1818 produced his first opera, Enrico di Borgogna. Anna Bolena (1830) was the opera that brought him to fame. It was produced in 1830 in Milan, although by this time he had already written over 30 operas. His Lucia di Lammermoor, produced in Naples in 1835, was his greatest success. He excelled not only in serious operas, where he showed a gift for melody and mastery of dramatic ensembles, but also in comic operas, such as La Fille du régiment/The Daughter of the Regiment (1840), L'elisir d'amore/The Elixir of Love (1832), and Don Pasquale (1843). In 1839–40 and 1843 he visited Paris and produced operas there. At about this time his physical and mental health began to fail, and he became paralysed in 1845.
Donizetti's operas demanded capable singers, and first found favour through such great singers as Giuditta Grisi and Luigi Lablache. More recently, singers such as Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland, and Montserrat Caballé have helped find a new audience, in particular for the recently neglected serious works.
WorksOpera more than 70, including Zoraida di Granata (Rome, 1822), L'ajo nell'imbarazzo (Rome, 1824), Emilia di Liverpool (Naples, 1824), Gabriella di Vergy (composed 1826, performed Naples, 1869), Il borgomastro di Saardam (Naples, 1827), Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali (Naples, 1827), Il giovedi grasso (Naples, 1828), Alina, regina di Golconda (1828), Elisabetta, o Il castello di Kenilworth (Naples, 1829), Anna Bolena (Milan, 1830), Gianni di Parigi (Milan, 1831), Fausta (Naples, 1832), Ugo, conte di Parigi (Milan, 1832), L'elisir d'amore (Milan 1832), Il furioso all'isola di San Domingo (Rome, 1833), Torquato Tasso (Rome, 1833), Lucrezia Borgia (Milan, 1833), Rosmonda d'Inghilterra (Florence, 1834), Maria Stuarda (Naples, 1834), Gemma di Vergy (Milan, 1834), Marino Faliero (Paris, 1835), Lucia di Lammermoor (Naples, 1835), Belisario (Venice, 1836), Il campanello di notte (Naples, 1836), L'assedio di Calais (1836), Pia de' Tolomei (Venice, 1837), Roberto Devereux (Naples, 1837), Maria di Rudenz (Venice, 1838), La Fille du régiment (Paris, 1840), La Favorite (Paris, 1840), Maria Padilla (Milan, 1841), Linda di Chamounix (Vienna, 1842), Caterina Cornaro (Naples, 1842), Don Pasquale (Paris, 1843), Dom Sébastien (Paris, 1843), Poliuto (Naples, 1848; originally composed in 1838 for Naples, it was banned and produced in Paris in 1840 as Les Martyrs), Le Duc d'Albe (written for Paris in 1840 but not produced; the score was completed by M Salvi and others and produced at the Teatro Apollo, Rome, on 22 March 1882).