Donizetti, Gaetano

Biography

Today, November 29, we celebrate the birthday of Gaetano Donizetti, the representative of the Italian romantic opera school, the idol of bel canto fans, the owner of an inexhaustible melodic gift, deep poetic talent and a sense of theatricality.

Donizetti created 74 operas in which the breadth and diversity of his compositional talent was revealed. Equally easily the author owned various national styles and genres of opera.

Donizetti's operatic work is extremely diverse in genres: social and psychological melodramas ("Linda di Chamouni" - 1842, "Gemma di Verdi" - 1834), historical and heroic dramas ("Velizario" - 1836, "Siege of Calais" - 1836, " Torquato Tasso” - 1833, “Maria Stuart” -  1835, “Marina Faliero - 1835), lyric-dramatic operas (“Lucia di Lammermoor” - 1835, “Favorite” - 1840, “Maria di Rogan” - 1843), tragic melodramas ("Lucrezia Borgia" - 1833, "Anna Boleyn" - 1830).

Especially diverse are the operas written in the genre of buffa, musical farces ("The Castle of the Disabled" - 1826, "The New Pourceaugnac" - 1828, "The Crazy On Order" - 1830), comic operas ("The Love Drink" - 1832, "Don Pasquale" - 1843), comic operas with conversational dialogues ("The daughter of the regiment" - 1840, "Rita" - staged in 1860) and the actual opera-buffa ("Tutor in difficulty" - 1824, "Night bell" - 1836).

Donizetti's operas are the fruits of the composer's unusually scrupulous work both over music and over the libretto. Being a well-educated musician, he used the works of V. Hugo, A. Dumas-father, V. Scott, J. Byron and E. Scribe, he tried to write librettos himself, he composed humorous poems beautifully.

In addition to operas, Donizetti's composed oratorios, cantatas, symphonies, quartets, quintets, spiritual and vocal compositions.

Outwardly, Donizetti's life seemed to be a triumph. In fact, it was not so. "My birth is covered in mystery," wrote the composer, "for I was born under the earth, in the basement of the Borgo Canal, where the ray of the sun never penetrated." His parents were poor: the father was a watchman; the mother was a weaver. At the age of 9 Gaetano enters the Charity Music School and becomes the best student there.

At the age of 14, he moved to Bologna, where he studied at the Lyceum. The outstanding abilities of Gaetano were first revealed in the examination in 1817, where his symphonic works and cantata were performed. Donizetti wrote 3 operas in the Lyceum: "Pygmalion", "Olympiad" and "Anger of Achilles", and already in 1818, his opera "Enrico, the Earl of Burgundy" was successfully staged in Venice. Despite the success of the opera, it was a very difficult period in the life of the composer: it was impossible to conclude contracts for writing, the family needed material assistance, those close to him did not understand him.

Still Donizetti signed a contract with the Roman opera to compose the opera "Zoraida Granatskaya". It was a success, but the criticism that hit the young composer was insultingly cruel. However, it did not break Donizetti, instead it only strengthened his quest to improve his skills. But the misfortunes followed one after another: first the composer's son died, then the parents, the beloved wife Virginia, who has not even turned 30 years old: "I'm alone on earth and I'm still alive!" Donizetti wrote desperately. It was only art that saved him from a suicide. Soon an invitation to Paris followed. There he wrote a romantic, charming, "Daughter of the Regiment", an elegant "Favorite". Both of these works, as well as the intellectual "Polievkt" were accepted with enthusiasm. The last opera of Donizetti was "Katharina Cornaro". It was staged in Vienna, where in 1842 Donizetti was awarded the title of Austrian court composer. After 1844, a mental illness forced Donizetti to abandon his compositional activities and caused his death.

The art of Donizetti, representing the decorative singing style, was organic and natural. "Donizetti absorbed all the joys and sorrows, worries and cares, all the aspirations of ordinary people for love and beauty and then expressed them in beautiful melodies that still live in the heart of the people" (Donati-Petteni).