Gaetano Donizetti

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Born: 29 November 1797, Bergamo, Italy

Died: 8 April 1848, Bergamo, Italy

One of the greats of Italian opera.  Prolific and versatile, he turned out around 70 operas (depending on how you count them), in comedy, tragedy and genres in between.  A short list of his most popular operas would include Lucia di Lammermoor, with its Mad Scene; Lucrezia Borgia; Anna Bolena; Maria Stuarda; Roberto Devereux; La favorite; La fille du régiment; Don Pasquale; and L’elisir d’amore.  Almost all his operas, though, have something to offer.

He began his career as an opera composer under the shadow of Rossini.  More than thirty operas followed before he wrote Anna Bolena (1830); this made him famous throughout Europe, launching his international career.  Towards the end of his life, he wrote operas for Paris and Vienna.  His combination of inspired tunefulness and Romantic melodrama strongly influenced the young Verdi.

His operas were rediscovered in the post-WWII bel canto boom after years of neglect; they’re now part of mainstream repertoire in opera houses around the world – and deservedly so!

Opera Rara in Britain has devoted itself to recording his works, using critical editions.


OPERAS

  1. Il Pigmalione (completed 1816; performed 1960)
  2. Olimpiade (incomplete, composed 1817)
  3. L’ira di Achille (incomplete, composed 1817)
  4. Enrico di Borgogna (1818)
  5. Una follia (1818; lost)
  6. I piccolo virtuosi ambulanti (1819)
  7. Il falegname di Livonia (1819)
  8. Le nozze in villa (1820–21)
  9. Zoraida di Granata (1822)
  10. La zingara (1822)
  11. La lettera anonima (1822)
  12. Chiara e Serafina (1822)
  13. Alfredo il grande (1823)
  14. Il fortunato inganno (1823)
  15. L’ajo nell’imbarazzo (1824)
    1. Don Gregorio (revision, 1826)
  16. Emilia di Liverpool (1824)
    1. L’eremitaggio di Liverpool (revision, 1828)
  17. Alahor in Granata (1826)
  18. Elvida (1826)
  19. Olivo e Pasquale (1827)
  20. Otto mesi in due ore (1827)
  21. Il borgomastro di Saardam (1827)
  22. Le convenienze teatrali (1827)
    1. Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali (revision, 1831)
  23. L’esule di Roma (1828)
  24. Alina, regina di Golconda (1828)
  25. Gianni di Calais (1828)
  26. Il paria (1829)
  27. Il giovedì grasso (1829)
  28. Elisabetta al castello di Kenilworth (1829)
  29. I pazzi per progetto (1830)
  30. Il diluvio universale (1830)
  31. Imelda de’ Lambertazzi (1830)
  32. Anna Bolena (1830)
  33. Francesca di Foix (1831)
  34. La romanziera e l’uomo nero (1831)
  35. Fausta (1832)
  36. Ugo, conte di Parigi (1832)
  37. L’elisir d’amore (1832)
  38. Sancia di Castiglia (1832)
  39. Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo (1833)
  40. Parisina (1833)
  41. Torquato Tasso (1833)
  42. Lucrezia Borgia (1833)
  43. Rosmonda d’Inghilterra (1834)
  44. Gemma di Vergy (1834)
  45. Marino Faliero (1835)
  46. Lucia di Lammermoor (1835)
    1. Lucie de Lammermoor (revision, 1839)
  47. Maria Stuarda (1835)
    1. Buondelmonte (revision, 1834)
  48. Belisario (1836)
  49. Il campanello di notte (1836)
  50. Betly, o La capanna svizzera (1836)
  51. L’assedio di Calais (1836)
  52. Pia de’ Tolomei (1837)
  53. Roberto Devereux (1837)
  54. Maria de Rudenz (1838)
  55. Les Martyrs (1840) [revision of Poliuto]
  56. La fille du regiment (1840)
  57. La favorite (1840)
  58. Adelia (1841)
  59. Maria Padilla (1841)
  60. Linda di Chamounix (1842)
  61. Caterina Cornaro (1844)
  62. Don Pasquale (1843)
  63. Maria di Rohan (1843)
  64. Dom Sébastien, roi de Portugal (1843)
  65. Poliuto (1848; composed 1838)
  66. Gianni di Parigi (1839; composed 1828–31)
  67. Rita (1860; composed 1841)
  68. Gabriella di Vergy (1869; completed 1826)
  69. Le duc d’Albe (incomplete, composed 1839)
    1. Il duca d’Alba (1882, completion by Matteo Salvi)

Recommended reading

Donizetti - Ashbrook.jpgWilliam Ashbrook’s Donizetti and His Operas (1982), the definitive guide to the composer.