(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
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