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Felice Romani Suggest updates

Born Genoa, 31 January 1788.

Died Mongelia, 28 January 1865.

Italian librettist.

Felice Romani is the dominant figure among librettists in the bel canto era, renowned for the fluidity of his verse both in tragedy and comedy, in spite of his initial training in the law. He worked for Rossini at the start of his career, and eventually provided a libretto for the young Verdi. However, most of his work was for the likes of Bellini, Donizetti, Mercadante and Pacini.

His libretti for Rossini were Aureliano in Palmyra (Milan 1813), Il turco in Italia (Milan 1814) and Bianca e Falliero (Milan 1819). His sole collaboration with Verdi was over his second opera, the ill-fated comedy Un giorno di regno (Milan 1840).

Giovanni Simone Mayr (1763-1845) was a German composer who spent his career in Italy. His masterpiece was the powerful tragedy Medea in Corinto, and he was also a successful teacher, most notably of Donizetti. Several of his mature works used libretti by Romani: La rosa bianca e la rosa rossa (Genoa 1813), Medea in Corinto (Naples 1813), Atar (Genoa 1814), Le due duchesse (Milan 1814), Le danaïde (Rome 1819), and Atalia (Naples 1822).

Romani's texts for Donizetti himself included some of his most successful works: Chiara e Serafina (Milan 1822), Alina (Genoa 1828), Anna Bolena (Milan 1830), Gianni di Parigi (1831, performed Milan 1839), Ugo, conte di Parigi (Milan 1832), L'elisir d'amore (Milan 1832), Parisina (Florence 1833), Lucrezia Borgia (Milan 1833), and Rosmonda d'Inghilterra (Florence 1834).

The composer with whom he seems to have worked most frequently was Saverio Mercadante (1795-1870), including a version of Hamlet. Their joint output is: Il posto abbandonato (Milan 1822), Amleto (Milan 1822), Il montanaro (Milan 1827), La testa di bronzo (Lisbon 1827), La rappresaglia (Cadiz 1829), I due Figaro (c1830, performed Madrid 1835), I normanni a Parigi (Turin 1832), Ismalia (Milan 1832),  Il conte d'Essex (Milan 1833), Emma d'Antiochia (Venice 1833), Uggero il danese (Bergamo 1834), La gioventù di Enrico V (Milan 1834), Francesca Donato (Turin 1835), and La solitaria delle Asturie (Venice 1840).

His libretti for Giovanni Pacini (1796-1867) include Il barone di Dolsheim (Milan 1818), Il falegname di Livonia (Milan 1819), Vallace (Milan 1820), and La sacerdotessa d'Irminsul (Trieste 1820), The last would seem to be an early draft of his later Norma for Bellini, while Vallace uses William Wallace as subject-matter.

He famously wrote an unbroken line of seven libretti for Bellini, ending only with their quarrel over Beatrice. Their collaborations were on Il pirata (Milan 1827), La straniera (Milan 1829), Zaira (Parma 1829), I Capuleti e i Montecchi (Venice 1830), La sonnambula (Milan 1831), Norma (Milan 1831), and Beatrice di Tenda (Venice 1833).

For Nicola Vaccai (1790-1845) he wrote Giulietta e Romeo (Milan 1825). Not only did he recycle some of the words into Bellini's Capuleti, but for many years (after Bellini's death), the closing scene of Vaccai's work was inserted into the Bellini piece.

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