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Vincenzo Bellini

Along with the operas of Rossini and Donizetti, those of Italian composer Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835) have come to epitomize the essence of the lyrical vocal style we now call bel canto (i.e., "beautiful singing"), as opposed to the more forceful and declamatory style represented by Wagner. Bellini, whose operas include Norma (1831), La sonnambula(1831), and I Puritani (1835), was born into a musical family, and he showed prodigious talent from an early age. Little Vinnie reportedly was singing arias before he was two, and before he turned three he had begun to study music theory (remember, kryptonite didn't make an appearance until the 20th Century ...). 

At age 18, Bellini entered the conservatory in Naples, where, for his graduation in 1825, his first opera was produced; and by the fall of 1827 Il pirata (The Pirate) premiered at La Scala in Milan. Before too long, Bellini went from being local sensation to international celebrity, and elements of his style--sensuous, long-flowing melodies and sometimes surprising harmonic shifts--are said to have had a great impact on the young Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849). Bellini's rise was cut short at the height of his popularity, when he grew ill in Paris (on an extended stopover between London and Milan), and died from acute intestinal and liver maladies.

During the first few years after he left the conservatory Bellini composed more than a dozen songs with piano. Among these, Il fervido desiderio and Dolente immagine di Fille mia were published posthumously, along with a third song, as Tre ariette; the authorship of the texts is unknown.

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