Bellini’s fabulous opera La Sonnambula (The Sleepwalker) contains a feast of beautiful melodies, vocal fireworks and a hilarious plot. But who was this man behind the music?
Bellini’s birthplace, the town of Catania on the Island in Sicily, contains the remarkably beautiful Piazza Vincenzo Bellini dominated but the magnificent Teatro Massimo Bellini – the opera house dedicated to the memory of Catania’s most important son:
An imposing statue of Bellini in Catania also gives a clue as to the importance of this composer. Having composed La Sonnambula at the age of just 29 the following year it transferred to Paris and London almost as soon as the sets could be painted. He quickly rocketed to stardom and was able to command huge fees. It soon reached a stage where his operas were being produced as quickly as he could write them.
His most enduring hit, Norma was quickly to follow and the stage was set for Bellini to become one of Italy’s true opera greats. However tragedy struck in 1835 when, at the age of just 33 ‘The Swan of Catania’ was struck down with an illness when on tour in France and died. His opera’s Il pirata, Capuleti, La sonnambula, Norma, and I puritani are regularly performed today as tribute to this great composer, full of promise of greater things which were sadly not to be.