One of the great masters of the Italian opera buffa. His parents were both musicians, and he began his career in childhood as a singer. He received his first formal musical education at the Liceo Comunale of Bologna, where one of his early cantatas was performed. Rossini's first comic opera, La Cambiale de Matrimonio, was produced in Venice in 1810, and it was followed by a series of lively works, culminating in his masterpiece, Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville, 1816). Based on the comedy by Beaumarchais, the opera resounds with Rossini's brilliant arias, ensemble numbers, and his famous crescendos. Among his many other operas are L'italiana in Algeri (1813), La Cenerentola (1817), and Semiramide (1823). In 1824, Rossini became the director of the Théâtre-Italien in Paris. After the production of his William Tell at the Paris Opéra in 1829, he stopped composing operas, and during the remaining 39 years of his life he wrote only songs, piano pieces, and a setting of the Stabat Mater (1842), in which his operatic style is still evident.
See biographies by Stendhal (1822, repr. 1982), Francis Toye (1934, repr. 1987), and Herbert Weinstock (1968, 2d ed. 1987).