The Composer and his Muse: the great women behind great men

  • Henley upon Thames

The operatic canon overflows with male composers, and there is no shortage of female roles. Today’s lecture explores the relationships between some exceptional women and the composers who, inspired by their talents, wrote for them. The links have been wide ranging - from the familial such as Mozart and the four Weber sisters, marital in the case of Rossini and his famous wife Isabella Colbran, to the amorous in the case of Puccini's multiple affairs. In each of these examples, it was the women in their lives that inspired much of their best music. Occasionally it was one singer that caught the attention of numerous composers, like Giuditta Pasta, who had multiple roles written specifically for her ranging from Bellini’s Norma and Sonnambula to Donizetti’s Anna Bolena.