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First and foremost: I will not pretend to know anything about opera.
However, I did unearth the significance of Judith to one of the great Italian opera composers: Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835), “the Swan of Catania” for his long-flowing melodic lines. He did not write an opera for Judith, but he did have two important Giuditta‘s in his life. Giuditta Pasta and Giuditta Turina.
Giuditta Angiola Maria Costanza Pasta (née Negri) (1797-1865) was a soprano considered among the greatest of opera singers of her time. She created the role of Amina in Bellini’s La sonnambula and Norma (both in Milan in 1831). The collaboration between Pasta and Bellini was crucial for both: in the young musician, the singer found the only person able to promote her talents while Bellini found the ideal vocal resources to interpret his creative and experimental artistry. Beatrice di Tenda was written for Pasta in 1833.
Giuditta Cantu Turina was introduced to Bellini in 1828, and although she was married, they began a passionate affair. Her marriage was not based on love and because the lovers were discreet, her husband and his family seem to have permitted the relationship. But sometime in 1833, Bellini’s relationship with Giuditta Turina deteriorated due to two factors. The failure of Beatrice di Tenda ended Bellini’s collaboration with Romani, the librettist, and a public quarrel resulted in Romani publishing an accusation that Bellini was too distracted “by a certain woman to pay attention to his music” – causing a horrible scandal. Concurrently, Turina’s husband found letters from Bellini, ceased to tolerate her indiscretions and forced a legal separation. Turina seemed ready to get a divorce and expressed her desire to be with Bellini, but his feelings had changed. The composer’s reaction was to break things off for good and flee the country without marrying her.
Strangely, Bellini later entertained thoughts of marrying an English friend of Pasta, and upon her refusal, of marrying Pasta’s young daughter Clelia – which her parents rejected.
There was a third Giuditta in Bellini’s life: Giuditta Grisi – an operatic mezzo-soprano for whom he wrote the role of Romeo in I Capuleti e i Montecchi in 1830.
Romeo? Really? Maybe that’s why she didn’t stick around as long.