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.

The autograph of Lucia at the Angelo Mai library

The Angelo Mai Library and Donizetti by Marcello Eynard The Angelo Mai Civic Library is one of the richest and most frequented of Italy’s historical preservation libraries. It opened in the second half of the eighteenth century on the testamentary bequest of Cardinal Giuseppe Alessandro Furietti, and has since been owned and administered by the Municipality of Bergamo. Essentially dedicated and equipped for...

The tombs of Donizetti and Mayr in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and the ‘charitable lessons’ classroom

The ‘MIA’ across centuries of culture and charity The Misericordia Maggiore, "Greater Mercy" or "MIA", as it has been historically abbreviated over the centuries and appears in several works of art in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, was founded in Bergamo in 1265 as a spiritual and charitable association by two Dominicans, Bishop Erbordo and Blessed Pinamonte da Brembate, who dictated the original statute. The goal of the MIA was to help the poor, the sick, prisoners, and others in...

The Donizetti Museum

Via Arena, 9, Bergamo
The Donizetti Museum is situated on the first floor of the ‘Domus Magna’, in Via Arena, 9. The figure of Gaetano Donizetti is presented to us through an exhibition of portraits, personal objects and autograph scores of the composer, following a thematic/chronological path of 5 stages: 1. The celebrations of 1897; 2. Studies in Bergamo and Bologna; 3. The burgeoning composer; 4. The career opera composer; 5. The man: in private and at work. The museum tour takes in multimedia...

The upper town theatre: the “Sociale” of the “Città alta”

Via Bartolomeo Colleoni, 4 , 24129 Bergamo BG
The theatre “Teatro Sociale“, originally the “Teatro della Società”, is located at the heart of the “Città Alta“, or “Upper Town”. Designed by Leopoldo Pollock, it was inaugurated in 1809 with the intent to rival the “Teatro Riccardi” built in the “Lower Town”, now “Teatro Donizetti“. There, the young Gaetano Donizetti formed part of the chorus for performances by Giovanni Simone Mayr’s “Charitable...

Teatro cittadino: Donizetti al Donizetti

Nato su interesse di Bortolo Riccardi – produttore e commerciante di seta dal quale prese inizialmente il nome – il Teatro Donizetti sorge su un’area di Bergamo bassa destinata tradizionalmente alla fiera e ai commerci. Inaugurato nel 1791, è ricostruito in muratura dopo un incendio e riaperto nel 1801, quando la programmazione è affidata a Giovanni Simone Mayr. Donizetti vi fu accolto trionfalmente nel 1840, in occasione della rappresentazione della sua opera L’esule di...

“I was born underground in Borgo Canale”: Donizetti’s birthplace

Via Borgo Canale, 14 , 24129 Bergamo BG
Located in the ancient street of Borgo Canale, Gaetano Donizetti’s birthplace was declared a National Monument on 28th January 1926, by Royal Decree No. 338. The building reveals the original social characteristics of the urban area, so very different from today’s, as crumbling and humid houses for families at the service of aristocratic and high-bourgeois buildings inside the walls. Donizetti’s parents lived there from their marriage in 1786 until...