Italian librettist Felice Romani (1788–1865) wrote 90 librettos for such composers as Bellini, Donizetti, Mercadante, Meyerbeer and Rossini. His well-structured plots and musically favourable texts made him one of the most sought-after Italian librettists of his day.
Romani was born in Genoa and studied in Pisa and Genoa. He travelled to France, Spain, Greece and Germany before settling in Milan in around 1812. He first began working as a librettist in 1813 for Mayr. He was propelled into the first rank of librettists in 1830–31, when his collaborations with Donizetti (Anna Bolena) and Bellini (La sonnambula) were performed in the Milan carnival. Apart from a near-hiatus 1834–49, when his post at the Savoy court in Turin curtailed his work as a librettist, he worked prolifically throughout his life with the major opera composers of the day; many of his librettos were set by more than one composer. His librettos for Rossini included Il turco in italia (1814) and Bianca e Falliero (1819); for Meyerbeer, Margherita d’Anjou (1820) and L’esule di Granata (1822); for Bellini, I Capuleti e i Montecchi (1830) and Norma (1831); and for Donizetti, L’elisir d’amore (1832) and Lucrezia Borgia (1833).
As was the custom of the day, Romani rarely worked closely with the composers using his librettos. Exceptions were Meyerbeer and Bellini, who each worked collaboratively with Romani on plot and structure. Romani’s collaborations particularly with the latter became exemplars from the golden age of bel canto opera.
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