The Life of Bellini
'A sigh in dancing pumps' was Heinrich Heine's view of Vincenzo Bellini. His great physical beauty, boundless success as a composer of romantic opera and untimely death in Paris at the age of thirty-three combined to give Bellini instant mythical status. But both facts and fantasies were to be embroidered by Bellini's close friend, lifelong correspondent and eventual biographer Francesco Florimo, who distorted the posthumous image of the composer to the extent of altering or destroying letters in his possession. In John Rosselli's account of the life and music of this gifted young composer a new picture emerges. He provides a more accurate view of Bellini's personality, his relationships, and his short but dazzling career in Naples, Milan and Paris. He introduces the operatic world of the early nineteenth century, the singers of Bellini's roles, and above all explains the writing and performance of the operas themselves - the lesser known as well as the more famous Norma, La Sonnambula and I puritani.
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Page 13 - Italian - at that time a literary and official language, and a lingua franca for the educated - was uncertain; like many people whose grasp of language is weak, he readily picked up foreign turns of phrase - Gallicisms - while failing to master the language they came from. All this calls for empathy and imagination as well as critical scrutiny. Many artists' work seems to move on a plane other than that of their daily life.