The son and grandson of musicians, at the age of three he was already startingto play the piano and at six he wrote his first composition to a religioustext. Admired while still very young in the salons of Catania as the composerof both sacred and secular music, he went to the Collegio San Sebastiano inNaples in 1819 to continue his musical studies, first with Furno and Tritto andthen with Zingarelli. This was the period of his idyll with Maddalena Fumaroli,a love that was opposed by her father, a magistrate who considered Bellini tobe just a simple "harpsichord player". On completing his studies(1825), he had his first opera, Adelson eSalvini, performed in the conservatory theatre: it was praised by Donizettiand repeated every Sunday for a year. His next opera, Bianca e Gernando (1826), written for the Teatro San Carlo, wasgiven an enthusiastic reception exceeding his greatest expectations; even theKing infringed etiquette and applauded a duet.
The impresario Barbaja, intuiting his genius, commissioned an opera fromBellini for La Scala; the interpreters – who had already been engaged – werethe soprano Meric-Lalande, the tenor Rubini and the bass-baritone Tamburini.The new opera, Il pirata (1827), to alibretto by Felice Romani, was Bellini's first important success and became oneof Rubini's favourite roles. In Milan Bellini met Giovanni Ricordi, was welcomedin the salons of the nobility and was immediately invited to compose an operafor the inauguration of the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa. But instead of writing a new operaBellini presented Bianca e Fernando(1828), a reworking of Bianca e Gernando.In a box of the Carlo Felice he met Giuditta Turina with whom he was to have along relationship, tolerated in silence by her husband. The following year heenjoyed successes with La stranieraat La Scala and Zaira in Parma, then in 1830 ICapuleti e i Montecchi was performed to great acclaim at La Fenice in Venice.
In 1831 La sonnambula and Norma were born: after their premieresin Milan they triumphed on all the stages of Europe. Bellini's last opera to be written in Italy, Beatricedi Tenda, was a failure in Venicein 1833. Disappointed by this and unhappy because his affair with Turina hadended, he went first to London, where La sonnambula and Norma triumphed at Drury Lane with the famous soprano Malibran, then to Paris, where he was enthusiasticallywelcomed by that musical world and the Théâtre Italien commissioned a new operafrom him. This was how I Puritanicame into being; five days after the premiere, which took place in January1835, he was awarded the Légion d'honneur, and later the King of Naplesconferred on him the insignia of the Accademia Borbonica.
The sad, premature end of a"romantic" composer
Bellini died that same year from an infection of the intestine which hadafflicted him for some time. The whole musical world, led by Rossini andCherubini, was grieved by his death. In the Church of the Invalides on 2October, 350 choristers conducted by Habeneck bade him farewell. Thesoloists were Rubini, Ivanov, Tamburini and Lablache.
- Adelson e Salvini (A.L. Tottola,Naples – Conservatorio San Sebastiano)
- Bianca e Gernando (D. Gilardoni,Napoli – Teatro San Carlo, then Bianca e Fernando in 1828)
- Il pirata (F. Romani, Milan –Teatro alla Scala)
- La straniera (F. Romani, Milan– Teatro alla Scala)
- Zaira (F.Romani, after Voltaire, Parma – Teatro Nuovo)
- I Capuleti e i Montecchi (F.Romani, Venice – Teatro La Fenice)
- La sonnambula (F. Romani, Milan– Teatro Carcano)
- Norma (F. Romani,Milano – Teatro alla Scala)
- Beatrice di Tenda (F. Romani,Venice – Teatro La Fenice)
- I Puritani e I Cavalieri (C. Pepoli, Paris – ThéâtreItalien)
And also: sacred music, vocal and instrumental music.