Bel Canto Opera 1800–1840
Developments in Opera
The Napoleonic period gives birth to a style of opera that uses the beauty
and dramatic power of the human voice to tell wildly melodramatic stories.
In serious opera, tragic endings become fashionable; in comic opera or
opera buffa, slapstick is still king.
Gioachino Rossini, Vincenzo Bellini, and Gaetano Donizetti compete as the
Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti:
A dreamy young woman's unscrupulous brother
destroys her love affair, her sanity, and eventually her life. Everyone's favorite
bel canto tragedy.
The Barber of Seville by Rossini:
Quick-witted Figaro (the same character who
appears in Mozart's Marriage of Figaro) helps a lovesick young count steal a girl
away from a crotchety old man. One of opera's most beloved comedies.