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Donizetti, (Domenico) Gaetano
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(Domenico) Gaetano (Maria) Donizetti

(Born; Bergamo, 29 Nov 1797; Died; there, 8 April 1848). Italian composer. He was of humble origins but received help and a solid musical education (1806-14) from Mayr, producing apprentice operas and many sacred and instrumental works before establishing himself at Naples with La zingara (1822). Here regular conducting and a succession of new works (two to five operas a year) marked the real start of his career. With the international triumph of Anna Bolena (1830, Milan) he freed himself from Naples; the further successes of L'elisir d'amore and Lucrezia Borgia (1832, 1833, Milan), Marino Faliero (1835, Paris) and the archetype of Italian Romantic opera, Lucia di Lammermoor (1835, Naples), secured his pre-eminence.

Some theatrical failures, however, as well as trouble with the censors and disappointment over losing the directorship of the Naples Conservatory to Mercadante, caused him to leave for Paris, where besides successful French versions of his earlier works he brought out in 1840 La fille du régiment and La favorite. His conducting of Rossini's Stabat mater (1842, Bologna) and enthusiasm in Vienna for Linda di Chamounix (1842) led to his appointment as Kapellmeister to the Austrian court. Declining health began to affect his work from this time, but in Don Pasquale (1843, Paris) he produced a comic masterpiece, and in the powerful Maria di Rohan (1843, Vienna), Dom Sébastien, roi di Portugal (1843, Paris) and Caterina Cornaro (1844, Naples) some of his finest serious music.

Dramatic music: Anna Bolena (1830); L'elisir d'amore (1832); Lucrezia Borgia (1833); Maria Stuarda (1835); Marino Faliero (1835); Lucia di Lammermoor (1835); Roberto Devereux (1837); La fille du régiment (1840); La favorite (1840); Linda di Chamounix (1842); Don Pasquale (1843); Maria di Rohan (1843); Dom Sébastien, roi di Portugal (1843); Caterina Cornaro (1844); Poliuto (1848; comp. 1838); Circa; 50 others; over 25 cantatas and occasional works.

Vocal chamber music: Circa; 250 songs and duets with pf acc; choruses.

Sacred music: Circa; 100 works, incl. Requiem, d, for Bellini (1835); Miserere, g (1837); Ave Maria (1842).

Instrumnetal music: 13 sinfonias; 5 concs., incl. Concertino, G eng hn(1817); 19 str qts; chamber music; pf pieces.

© Groves Dictionaries, MacMillan Publishers Limited, UK

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