Handsome, elegant, quite the dandy and supremely talented he was the darling of the musical world, the ladies and society in general. His rather sudden death at the age of 34 made him the perfect "romantic" artist. That air of "romanticism" and the long lyric lines of his music earned Bellini the title "the Swan of Catania" and there are reminders of and memorials to him throughout his home town.
|The Teatro Massimo Bellini was inaugurated on the evening of 31 May 1890 , with Bellini's opera Norma. The initial design of the theater was by the architect Andrea Scala , with subsequent changes by Carlo Sada who took over from his mentor. The facade is inspired by the Sansovino Library in Venice.|
Rapidsari would hardly be impressed by the less than "dignified" state that the theatre is in today. Though still majestic and imposing and used for operas and concerts, like much of the rest of the city, it has seen better days. The elaborate iron work is rusted, the facade scared by the weather, the salt sea air and graffiti. Given the scarcity of money these days, unless a generous donor is found, any sort of restoration is a long time, if ever, off.
|Hemmed in as it is by kiosks, bus shelters and political partisans it is difficult to appreciate the full impact of Monteverde's tribute to "the Swan of Catania".|
Monteverde was a leader in the "naturalist" movement and became one of the most sought after sculptors of his time. Working entirely in white marble he created an allegory to Catania's beloved son. Seven steps - the musical notes - lead to a column topped by the seated composer. On the four sides of the column are figures from what were consider, at the time, his four most famous works: Norma, Il pirata, La sonnambula and I puritani. Though it has been protected from graffiti artists by a wrought iron fence is has become hemmed in by bus and news kiosks and the day we were there a group of Neo-Fascists demanding the expulsion of all "stanieri" from Italy - perhaps not without irony as one of Bellini's first success was a work called La staniera - The Stranger.
Surrounded by figures representing four of his most popular works and caught in eternal youth, Bellini sits, perhaps a bit bemused, amidst the hustle and bustle of Piazza Stesicoro on Via Etnea, Catania's main thoroughfare.
|The remains of Bellini are guarded by a life-sized angel and an eternal (electric) flame.|
|Two rather pretty angels assist the equally pretty Bellini on his assent into the celestial spheres - a touch of the overly sentimental style of the period. But an exit befitting the perfect "romantic" artist.|
28 giugnio - Sant'Ireneo di Lione