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Now for the square off of the bel canto specialists, Donizetti vs. Bellini.

The bel canto style of Italian Opera came after Rossini and before Verdi although the style did stain a lot of Verdi’s work, especially before Verdi succumed to Wagner.

Let’s consider Donizetti. First of all he is on a three-season streak at San Diego Opera with Don Pasquale in 2012, Daughter of the Regiment in 2013, and The Elixir of Love coming in 2014.

Donizetti effectively wrote both dramatic operas such as Lucia di Lammermoor and comedies such as the three listed above. He also has some pop culture credit. The mad scene from Lucia is what the “diva” in The Fifth Element sings before the baddies shoot the place up.

Bellini wrote the greatest of all bel canto operas, Norma. Norma is set in Roman Gaul and follows the forbidden love of a Roman Tribune and Gaulish priestess.

Speaking of forbidden love, Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi is a telling of Romeo and Juliet based on Italian sources instead of Shakespeare.

What sets Bellini apart from all other composers is the inclusion of a high F above high C for the tenor in his opera Il Pirata. It’s not often performed and there are rumors that some contracts actually write in that the tenor shall not attempt the high F.

Since these two composers are both so deserving, we’ll call this a push and let them both into the next round.

This concludes the first round for the Italians. Those composers going through are Vivaldi, Rossini, Puccini, Verdi, Leoncavallo, Donizetti, and Bellini.

Why only seven composers when eight are needed? Somehow Respighi received a first round bye and was advanced to the second round.

The Italian officials have no comment.

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