ITALY’S FAMED COMPOSERS

ROSSINI

Gioacchino Rossini was one of the original great Italian composers. Born on Italy’s Adriatic Coast in 1792, his first works, The Barber of Seville, is his most memorable and is considered one of the world’s most popular operas, even though the young composer was hissed at during his premiere at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples!  

This clearly did not stop Rossini as he penned an impressive 39 classical and romantic operas over the course of his life, performing many of them in his adopted city of Naples.  

Rossini even has an Italian cocktail named after him, which combines dry Prosecco with puréed strawberries!
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VERDI

The son of an innkeeper and farmer, Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was born in 1813 in the northern province of Parma in Emilia-Romagna prior to Italian unification but spent much of his adult life in Milan at La Scala.  

Verdi injected Italian opera with the idea of integrated scenes and unified acts, which can be seen in his great works, Rigoletto (1851), La Traviata (1853), and Aida (1871), among others.   

Arguably one of the greatest operas of all time, Verdi penned his four-act opera Otello (1887) based on William Shakespeare’s Othello, as well as the comic opera Falstaff (1893) late into his retirement years.
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PUCCINI

Born in Lucca in 1858, Giacomo Puccini took over Verdi’s long-standing reign with his prolific career, composing 12 operas in his lifetime. Puccini embraced the 19th century Romantic Italian opera, as well as the post-Romantic style, verismo, which portrayed the world with greater realism.  

Puccini penned some of opera’s most notable and frequently performed works, including La Bohème (1896), Tosca (1900), Madama Butterfly (1904), and Turandot (1924).  

Puccini spent much of his life in the picturesque Tuscan town of Torre del Lago, near Viareggio, which celebrates the composer with an annual festival. 
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NESSUN DORMA

Immortalised by football fans the world over and popularised by Luciano Pavarotti, one of the most famous arias in opera is of course Nessun dorma (Let no one sleep). It comes from Giacomo Puccini’s final opera, Turandot, which first premiered at Teatro La Scala in Milan in 1926.  

The unknown Prince Calaf sings it in defiance against the beautiful but hard Princess Turandot, who sets three riddles to suitors wishing to wed her. If they answer incorrectly, they are beheaded. If they answer correctly, she can still execute him if she correctly guesses the suitor’s name.  

Having answered the riddles correctly in the previous act, Calaf sings Nessun dorma to advise her that he will marry her: Il mio nome non sai! (My name you do not know!). The princess’s response is that none of her subjects shall sleep that night until they identify him, or else they will all be killed.  

Nessun dorma is considered one of the most technically difficult arias to sing due to the fact its elongated notes sit high on the scale but need to be sung loudly.

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