Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835)

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
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01Child Prodigy to Student Triumph20150921

01Child Prodigy to Student Triumph20150921

Donald Macleod introduces some of Bellini's early works.

01Child Prodigy to Student Triumph20150921

Donald Macleod introduces some of Bellini's early works.

01Child Prodigy to Student Triumph20150921

01Child Prodigy to Student Triumph20150921

Italian composer Vincenzo Bellini, famous for his bel canto era operas, was born into a musical family in Catania, Sicily in 1801. If papers are to be believed, he could sing an aria at 18 months old, and began composing at the age of six.

Donald Macleod introduces some of Bellini's early works, including a song written at the age of 12, an oboe concerto and an extract from his first opera Adelson e Salvini, that so impressed his fellow students and professors it was performed at the conservatory in Naples every Sunday for a year. We hear about his lifelong friend and biographer Francesco Florimo, and an early romance. We will also hear music from Norma, one of Bellini's most successful operas, and his last opera I Puritani.

01Child Prodigy to Student Triumph20150921

Italian composer Vincenzo Bellini, famous for his bel canto era operas, was born into a musical family in Catania, Sicily in 1801. If papers are to be believed, he could sing an aria at 18 months old, and began composing at the age of six.

Donald Macleod introduces some of Bellini's early works, including a song written at the age of 12, an oboe concerto and an extract from his first opera Adelson e Salvini, that so impressed his fellow students and professors it was performed at the conservatory in Naples every Sunday for a year. We hear about his lifelong friend and biographer Francesco Florimo, and an early romance. We will also hear music from Norma, one of Bellini's most successful operas, and his last opera I Puritani.

01The Art Of Recycling20150923
01The Art Of Recycling20150923

How a failed opera became successful by recycling music for I Capuleti e I Montecchi.

Bellini's opera Zaira was nearly left unperformed due to his librettist Felice Romani refusing to shave his moustache, then considered illegal by the local Palma authorities! Though the opera was a failure, Bellini was able to recycle the best material for his new reworking of the Romeo and Juliet story: I Capuleti e I Montecchi, which went on to be a great success. We learn about the beginnings of his ill health that recurred throughout his short lifetime, and hear four of his songs. Presented by Donald Macleod

02Rapid Success And A Love Affair20150922
02Rapid Success And A Love Affair20150922

Donald Macleod on Bellini's rapid success in the opera world and a blossoming love affair.

Bellini's success in the opera world was rapid; as a result of his student opera, he was invited to compose an opera for the Teatro San Carlo (Bianca e Fernando) which in turn led to a commission for La Scala, Milan. The resulting opera, Il Pirata, was the first to offer him international success. By the age of 27 his second commission for La Scala, La Straniera, premiered. We learn about Bellini's blossoming affair with already married Giuditta Turina. Extracts include the high tenor aria from Bianca e Fernando, and Il Pirata's mad scene. Presented by Donald Macleod.

04Bellini's Diva20150924

04Bellini's Diva20150924

Donald Macleod focuses on Bellini's friendship with Italian soprano Giuditta Pasta.

04Bellini's Diva20150924

Donald Macleod focuses on Bellini's friendship with Italian soprano Giuditta Pasta.

04Bellini's Diva20150924

04Bellini's Diva20150924

In 1830, Bellini formed a lifelong friendship with famous Italian soprano Giuditta Pasta. He went on to create the roles of Amina (La Sonnambula), and Norma specifically for her.

Bellini's tragic opera, Norma, is often considered his masterpiece and contains one of the most famous arias of the 19th century: Casta Diva. It was an aria that, originally, Giuditta Pasta refused to sing! We hear a large extract from this opera that includes Casta Diva, performed by Maria Callas. We also hear an example of Bellini's coloratura fireworks in an aria and duet from La Sonnambula (The Sleepwalker).

04Bellini's Diva20150924

In 1830, Bellini formed a lifelong friendship with famous Italian soprano Giuditta Pasta. He went on to create the roles of Amina (La Sonnambula), and Norma specifically for her.

Bellini's tragic opera, Norma, is often considered his masterpiece and contains one of the most famous arias of the 19th century: Casta Diva. It was an aria that, originally, Giuditta Pasta refused to sing! We hear a large extract from this opera that includes Casta Diva, performed by Maria Callas. We also hear an example of Bellini's coloratura fireworks in an aria and duet from La Sonnambula (The Sleepwalker).

05A Flower Fades Too Soon20150925

Vincenzo Bellini died tragically young, at the age of just 33. His funeral was attended by the musicians and artists of Paris, 350 singers performed a mass, a quartet of the greatest opera singers of the day performed one of Bellini's arias, and composers Rossini and Cherubini were pallbearers.

We hear the final scene of the opera Beatrice di Tenda with the great 20th Century exponent of Bellini heroines, Joan Sutherland singing the title role, the duet Suoni le tromba from Bellini's final opera I Puritani, and the aria Ah! non credea mirarti / Sì presto estinto, o fiore from La Sonnambula sung by Maria Callas, which is the inscription on Bellini's tomb in Catania: 'Oh, flower, I did not believe you would fade so soon'. Presented by Donald Macleod.