LAURO ROSSI (1812 - 1885)
Lauro Rossi was born on 19 February 1812 (some sources claim 1810) in Macerata, an historic Italian town twenty kilometres from the country’s east coast and twice that distance south of Ancona. His student years were spent in Naples, studying at the Music Conservatory with several different teachers. Two of them, Niccolò Zingarelli and Giovanni Furno, were highly regarded composers who could both claim Vincenzo Bellini as one of their earlier pupils and a third teacher, Girolamo Crescentini, was a world renowned castrato, impresario and composer. There is no doubt that Rossi was well taught.
Young Lauro’s first opera was Costanza e Oringaldo, (whose composition he shared with an older colleague, Pietro Raimondi), written for the Teatro San Carlo in Naples in 1830. Other works came thick and fast and Rossi was soon noticed by Gaetano Donizetti, on whose recommendation he was offered an appointment at the Teatro Valle in Rome. His tenth opera, a ‘comic melodrama’ La casa disabitata, had its première at La Scala, Milan in 1834, on the strength of which he was commissioned to compose a vehicle for the great Spanish mezzo Maria Malibran, to be produced in Naples in 1834. Alas, Amelia or Otto anni di costanza (Eight faithful years) was not the success that either diva or composer dreamed of and, in his disappointment, Rossi took his talents overseas, first to Vera Cruz in Mexico and later to New York, Havana and New Orleans, where for several years he was music director and organizer of different opera companies. In 1841 he married one of the principal singers, soprano Isabella Obermeyer, and two years later Signor and Signora Rossi returned to Europe, where he again achieved considerable success in theatres around Italy and beyond with a variety of new operas, both tragic and comic. The most popular of these was the opera comica entitled Il domino nero, first presented in Milan in 1849. Rossi was a well-to-do, friendly and respected figure.
Rossi died on 5 May 1885 having lived a full and famous life.
– Paul Campion