Isabella Colbran

Isabella Colbran

Madrid, Provincia de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Death 7 Oct 1845 (aged 60)
Bologna, Città Metropolitana di Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Burial Bologna, Città Metropolitana di Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Memorial ID 86167114 · View Source
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Opera Singer. A respected mezzo soprano of the early 19th. century, she is remembered for her association with and marriage to composer Gioacchino Rossini. Born Isabel Angela Colbran to a family of wealth, little is recorded of her early days though she apparently evidenced her talent from a young age as following private instruction she made her Paris recital debut at 16. Isabella first appeared on the operatic stage in 1806 in her native Spain then the year next moved on to Bologna, Italy, where critics remarked on her three octave range. The 1808-1809 season found her at La Scala Milano where she sang the world premieres of three now-forgotten works, Giuseppe Nicolini's "Coriolano", Vincenzo Federici's "Ifigenia", and Vincenzo Lavigna's "Oracamo". In 1811 she joined Naples' Teatro San Carlo, then perhaps the world's premiere opera house, where she was praised for Spontini's "La Vestale", created the title role in Simon Mayr's "Medea in Corinto" in 1813, and also became the lover of the theatre's impresario Domenico Barbaja. Isabella met the somewhat younger Rossini around 1815 and over the coming years the San Carlo was to see her create roles in a string of the prolific maestro's works including the title lead of "Elizabeth, Queen of England" on October 4, 1815, Desdemona in "Otello" on December 4, 1816 (this given at Naples' Teatro de Fondo), "Armida" on November 11, 1817, Elcia from "Moses in Egypt" on March 5, 1818, Zoraide of "Riccardo e Zoraide" on December 3, 1818, "Ermione" on March 27, 1819, Elena, "The Lady of the Lake" on October 24, 1819, and "Zelmira" on March 16, 1822. Just when the relationship between singer and composer became personal is anybody's guess but the pair married at Casternaso the day prior to the premiere of "Zelmira" and soon left for Venice. The ninth and final work Rossini wrote for Isabella was "Semiramide" which she premiered at La Fenice, Venice, on February 3, 1823; the couple traveled to London in 1824 but Isabella's voice was already in decline and after her flop as Zelmira she sang little, finally leaving the stage in 1827. The marriage was rocky as Isabella was a compulsive gambler and Rossini had a poor concept of fidelity but the couple did not formally separate until 1836. In later years, her money depleted by gambling and her health ruined by the chronic gonococcal pelvic inflamatory disease given her by Rossini, she was financially supported by the composer. Isabella lived out her days with Rossini's parents and was buried in their family plot. Today some of the songs she composed have been preserved; while Rossini's enduring fame rests on operas not written for Isabella he was always to cite her as the greatest interpreter of his music.

Bio by: Bob Hufford

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 3 Mar 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 86167114
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Isabella Colbran (2 Feb 1785–7 Oct 1845), Find A Grave Memorial no. 86167114, citing Cimitero Monumentale della Certosa di Bologna, Bologna, Città Metropolitana di Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy ; Maintained by Find A Grave .