Gaetano Donizetti was born in 1797 in a dark basement in Bergamo. He was born in a poor family with six children, but Donizetti was lucky enough to receive a free musical education at the school of the opera composer Simone Mayr. Mayr recognised Donizetti's talent and after giving him composition lessons he ensured he could continue his studies in Bologna. He also helped him get his first opera commission. Donizetti kept working hard and for a considerable period he composed four operas each year. A large part of his career, he worked in Naples, which could be a reason why his artistic style remained relatively conventional. After all, the opera audience in Naples had a conservative taste and censorship was extraordinarily strict: absolutely no violence or 'improper' romantic relationships on stage! Donizetti had the gift to compose remarkably fast and wrote in total more than 80 operas, both serious and comic. His operas L'Elisir d'Amore and Don Pasquale remain popular due to their cheerful and energetic music, uplifting rhythms, and tender melodies. Among his serious operas, his Lucia di Lammermoor, with its famous "mad scene" is most popular. Donizetti died in 1848 in Bergamo, after staying in a medical facility in Paris for months, suffering from dementia and paralysed by syphilis. A tragic death for a composer who was also known for his warm personality.