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Bergamo (Italy) 29 November 1797 - Bergamo (Italy) 8 April 1848
Gaetano Donizetti was raised in a poor family with 6 children. He first attended singing and harpsichord lessons with Simon Mayr in Bergamo who sent him to Bologna to the priest Mattei, the master of Rossini, in order to learn the composition of symphonies and quartet.
Donizetti came back to Bergamo in 1817 and while he started to compose religious and quite strict works, he soon began to compose operas and presented Enrico di Borgogna in Venice in 1819. He was assailed by requests and composed a lot with Zoraïde di Granata in 1822, La Zingara and I pirati the same year, among others. He composed 26 operas from 1822 to 1830, L'elisir d'amore is one of them.
In 1828 he married Virginia Vasselli.
He was appointed choirmaster and composition master at the Conservatory of Naples in 1834 and he then became teacher of the arts of counterpoint at the Royal College of music in Naples in 1836.
Thanks to his great abilities, he was very successful and became popular in Europe, thanks to Anna Bolena in 1831 and Lucia di Lammermoor in 1835, among others, which were both inspired from novels written by Walter Scott.
His success became greater as his rivals disappeared like Bellini or retired like Rossini.
In 1836 and 1837 though, his parents, his daughter and his wife died one after each other.
In 1840, he left Naples for Paris where he composed La Fille du Régiment and Les Martyrs. In 1842, as he was criticized by French compositors like Berlioz, he decided to leave Paris for Vienna. He was then appointed Court Composer and Master of the Imperial Chapel and had a resounding success with Linda di Chamounix and with Don Pasquale in 1843.
He kept on travelling and composing but his mental health deteriorated and he was commited at the mental institution of Ivry-sur-Seine (France) in 1846.
Thanks to his nephew, he was transferred to Bergamo in 1847 where he died at the age of 50 years.
Donizetti remains famous thanks to his lyric compositions but also for the speed at which he composed : Indeed, he wrote « done in one hour and a half » on a symphony partition he did in 1816.
His repertoire is abundant and various : during his life he composed 71 operas, 18 quartetts, 28 cantatas 13 symphonies, 3 quintets and 115 religious compositions !