On the island of Sicily Bellini was born in 1801, the eldest of seven sons of an organist and composer. He showed such talent at an early age that he was given a grant from the city council of Catania to study in Naples, at the Real Collegio di Musica. His first opera, Adelson e Salvini (1825), was produced there, and it led to his being commissioned to write the opera Bianca e Fernando for the Teatro San Carlo.
With his third work (Il Pirata, 1827) began Bellini's partnership with the librettist Felice Romani, which lasted through to Bellini's penultimate opera. Although successful, his next work was even more so, as Bellini began developing his own style, casting off the superfluous orchestration and ornamentation which was the inescapable influence of Rossini. Long melodically winding vocal lines of Romani's meticulously composed text, paired with a simple accompaniment became Bellini's trademark.
More operas followed, I Capuletti e i Montecchi (1830) and La Sonnambula (1831) being particularly outstanding examples. Bellini travelled to London and Paris, making friends with leading artistic figures such as Chopin, Liszt, and Victor Hugo. Because of a falling-out with Romani, Bellini worked with Count Carlo Pepoli on what was to be his last opera, I Puritani (1835). It was a triumph, outshining Donizetti's Marino Fahero which opened simultaneously, to Bellini's great pleasure. That year the 34 year old died of amoebic infection, at the height of his genius.