Gaetano Donizetti

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Donizetti, Gaetano

(gītä`nō dōnēdzĕt`tē), 1797–1848, Italian composer. He studied music in Bergamo and Bologna and achieved success with his first opera, Enrico di Borgogna (1818). His early work was influenced by Rossini, but he later developed his own pleasantly melodic, often sentimental, style. Most popular of his more than 60 operas are Lucrezia Borgia (1833), Lucia di Lammermoor (1835), and Linda di Chamounix (1842), all serious operas; La Fille du régiment (The Daughter of the Regiment, 1840), a French opéra comique; and L'Elisir d'amore (The Elixir of Love, 1832) and Don Pasquale (1843), outstanding examples of opéra buffa. He also wrote songs, several symphonies, chamber music, oratorios, cantatas, and church music. In 1845 he became paralyzed, and he never composed again.


See studies by A. Weinstock (1964) and W. Ashbrooke (1965).

Donizetti, Gaetano


Born Nov. 29, 1797, in Bergamo; died there Apr. 8, 1848. Italian composer.

Donizetti first studied composition under S. Mayr, and from 1815 to 1817 he continued his studies at the Bologna School of Music with S. Mattei (composition class). He made his debut as a composer in 1818 with the opera Enrico, Count of Bur gundy. The works of the 1820’s were largely influenced by G. Rossini. Donizetti developed an original style in the 1830’s. His operas U’Elisir d’amore (1832) and Lucrezia Borgia (1833) won him fame throughout Europe. One of his best mature works is the opera Lucia di Lammermoor (1835, Naples). From 1835 to 1839 he was professor (from 1837, director) at the conservatory in Naples. In 1839, after the censorship banned his operaPoliuto, he went to Paris, where the operas Les Martyrs (a reworking of Poliuto), Fille du regiment (1840), and La Favorite (1843) were produced. He also composed operas for Vienna theaters—Linda di Chamounix (1842) and Maria di Rohan (1843). In 1844 he ceased to compose because of illness.

Along with G. Rossini and V. Bellini, Donizetti is an outstanding representative of the Italian opera of the first half of the 19th century and a master of the art of bel canto. His style is characterized by light and brilliant melody, effective vocal virtuosity, and theatricality. A bright page in the history of Italian operatic music is Donizetti’s comic opera Don Pasquale (1843, Paris)—a popular opera buffa. Some of Donizetti’s works, however, are superficial, lack unity of style, and have stereotyped characterizations, which caused a number of 19th-century musical authorities to criticize his work (A. S. Dargomyzhskii, A. N. Serov). Donizetti also composed cantatas, Masses, chorales, orchestral works, and chamber music.


Lettere inedite. … Collected by A. Eisner-Eisenhof. Bergamo, 1897.


Serov, A. N. Kriticheskie stat’i, vols. 1-4. St. Petersburg, 1892-95.
Petrovskii, E. “Gaetano Donitsetti (1797-1848).” Russkaia muzykal’naia gazeta, 1897, no. 10.
Zavadini, G. Donizetti. Bergamo, 1948.
Ashbrook, W. Donizetti. London [1965].