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Bellini's Birthday

A Minute with Miles
Mary Noble Ours
SC Public Radio

Today is the birthday of Vincenzo Bellini, the composer of such bel canto operas as La Sonnambula, or “The Sleepwalker,” and Norma, among others. Bellini was born in 1801, and he died in September of 1835, not quite thirty-four years old.

Bel canto means “beautiful singing,” and truth be told Bellini often gets pigeonholed as a composer of mere shallow vocal showpieces. But go to YouTube and listen to Maria Callas singing “Casta Diva,” the most famous aria from Norma, and find a good performance of the final scene from Norma, and I think you’ll hear music of great depth; music of beauty, subtlety, and power that speaks to us—with words and without—about war, peace, hatred, intolerance, loyalty, regret, love between a woman and a man, love of a father for his daughter, and about the countless thoughts and feelings that have no names. Vincenzo Bellini.

A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.

Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.