Gaetano Donizetti is one of the five most-performed composers in the world, and the most international of Italian composers: initially romantic in style, he set around half of his operas in exotic countries.
Today his hometown of Bergamo is one of Italy’s most international cities: served by Orio al Serio airport, Italy’s third busiest, and an hour from Malpensa, it is home to some of the most international industries in the country.
The city is imbued with memories of Donizetti. The composer’s legacy is widespread, embracing the whole of Bergamo both geographically and culturally and traversing history and social class.
The last outpost of the Republic of Venice from the early 15th century to the Napoleonic era, in 2017 Bergamo was listed as a Unesco World Heritage site: the Venetian walls that encircle the Città Alta – categorised as Venetian Works of Defence between the 16th and 17th Centuries: Stato da Terra – western Stato da Mar – ideologically link Bergamo with Peschiera and Palmanova in Italy, Zara and Sibenik in Croatia and Kotor in Montenegro.
The city’s main places for remembrance of Donizetti’s life and art are its two theatres: the Donizetti and the Sociale, on the site of the composer’s birth; the Angelo Maj Library which contains the original manuscript of Lucia di Lammermoor; the Donizetti Museum run by the Fondazione Bergamo nella Storia; the Carrara Academy with a painting by Giacomo Calegari depicting the death of Donizetti in Palazzo Basoni in Bergamo (today a private home and not open to visitors), and lastly two sites run by the Fondazione MIA: the Domus Magna, formerly the music school where Gaetano Donizetti was taught by Simone Mayr, thanks to the charitable contribution of the ancient Fondazione della Misericordia; and the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, where the composer is buried.