The Life of Bellini

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Cambridge University Press, 1996 - Biography & Autobiography - 184 pages
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'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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Contents

A young southerner
14
Storming La Scala
36
The champion
62
At the height of his powers
80
False steps
102
Paris and death
119
Appendix
151
Notes
160
Note on further reading and listening
175
Index
178
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Page ix - Lives' series, is a concise (184 pages) work designed to provide a 'short critical biography of Bellini, seen in his historical context.
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.
Page 5 - blond as the cornfields, sweet as the angels, young as the dawn, melancholy as the sunset.

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