Composer. His operas "Norma" (1831) and "La Sonnambula" (1831) are outstanding works of the Italian "bel canto" style. The title role of "Norma" is considered the most difficult in the soprano repertoire. His music had a profound influence on Giuseppe Verdi. Bellini was born in Catania, Sicily, the son and grandson of musicians. He showed early talent and a Sicilian nobleman paid for him to study at the San Sebastiano Conservatory in Naples. His first opera, "Adelson e Salvini" , was performed there in 1825. "Il Pirata" (1827), staged at Milan's La Scala, brought him fame, and "I Capuleti e i Montecchi" (1830) established him as a leading opera composer. "Norma," Bellini's masterpiece, was a fiasco at its La Scala premiere, but he had faith in the score and it soon won over audiences. In 1833 he conducted his works in London, where they were not well received; but he conquered Paris with a new opera, "I Puritani" (1835). It was also his last. Apart from his ability to weather career storms, Bellini was known for his womanizing and superstitious nature. For several years he carried on an affair with Giuditta Turina, a young married woman, only to abandon her when their liason was made public and her husband sued for divorce. When another rejected lover wrote him on her deathbed that they would soon be reunited in heaven, he took it as an evil omen. Not long after receiving this letter, Bellini died of dysentery at the age of 33. Originally interred at Pere Lachaise in Paris, his remains were transferred to his birthplace of Catania in 1876. Compared to Gaetano Donizetti, his fellow "bel canto" master, Bellini was not a prolific composer (though 11 operas in ten years was no small acheivement). His richly lyrical style was slow to develop and his early death robbed the world of what probably would have been the great works of his maturity. But his best operas, especially "Norma" and "La Sonnambula," are successfully revived wherever there are capable singers to perform them.
Bio by: Bobb Edwards