|Rossini, Gioacchino Antonio (1792-1868), Italian composer, the most successful operatic composer of his time. He was outstanding in his comic opera and was one of the three great 19th-century exponents of the bel canto style, which emphasizes beauty of melodic line, rather than excessive drama and emotion.
Born February 29, 1792, at Pesaro and trained at the Conservatorio de Bologna, Rossini composed 37 operas, beginning with Demetrio e Polibio (1806) and ending with William Tell (1829). His first wife was the Spanish soprano Isabella Colbran, who sang in several of his early operas. Rossini's most successful opera, and the only one that remains in the permanent repertoire, is The Barber of Seville, produced in Rome in 1816. Of his other operas, those most frequently and successfully revived today are L'Italiana in Algeri (The Italian Girl in Algiers, 1813), Il Turco in Italia (The Turk in Italy, 1814), La Cenerentola (Cinderella, 1817), Semiramide (1823), and Le Comte Ory (Count Ory, 1828). After 1831, Rossini composed no further operas and during the rest of his life produced only one important work, the Stabat Mater of 1842. Despite his long retirement, he remained one of the great personages of the musical world. He died in Passy, on November 13, 1868.
Rossini's operas were the last and best in the Italian opera buffa, or comic opera, style. Typically light and lively, their music is notable for its high degree of comic characterization. Rossini used the highly artistic bel canto style to fashion bright melodies, which the singers could deliver with brilliant effects and stirring expression.1