Domenico Barbaja (1777–1841) was the legendary impresario who dominated European operatic stages for thirty years. The ruthless mogul was at the very heart of the bel canto era in which beautiful singing, allied to flawless technique, was brought to perfection. This release celebrates his legacy in exploring how Barbaja influenced the way opera was written and performed, by commissioning a series of masterpieces from the greatest composers of the time, such as Rossini, Donizetti and Weber, and staging them in his magnificent opera houses, performed by the most glamorous singers of the age.
This is a companion CD to Bel Canto Bully, a new biography of Domenico Barbaja, published by Haus.
Listen to 'Quel sangue versato al cielo s'innalza' from Donizetti's Roberto Devereux
The musical excerpts for the Bel Canto Bully album are selected by Philip Eisenbeiss, author of Domenico Barbaja's biography with the same title, from the following Naxos CDs. The selections are from operas that were commissioned by Barbaja from the composers Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Mercadante and Weber, and were premièred at theatres that the impresario controlled.
Carl Maria von Weber
Bel Canto Bully
The Life and Times of the Legendary Opera
Impresario Domenico Barbaja
First major biography of Italy's most celebrated opera impresario, Domenico Barbaja
Domenico Barbaja was the leading light in Italian opera in the early 1800s. He began life as a barely educated waiter, but went on to manage opera houses and casinos in Naples and Milan and drive the careers of the leading artists of the time, including the great mezzosoprano Isabella Colbran, who became Barbaja's lover before eventually deserting him to marry Rossini. Unscrupulous, devilishly ambitious and charismatic, Barbaja changed the face of Italian cultural life.