BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Saturday, March 16, 1822:

Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868) today marries Isabella Colbran (1785-1845), former prima donna of the Teatro San Carlo and frequent leading lady of his operas. She also was the former mistress of the impresario of the Teatro San Carlo, Domenico Barbaja (1777-1841). The wedding takes place in a small church, Our Lady of the Pilar, in Castenaso, Italy a few miles from Bologna. The marriage had to be by special dispensation, since it was the Lenten season, granted no doubt because the couple were about to depart for Vienna.

Isabella Colbran and Gioachino Rossini

Rossini’s tragedy Ermione had failed badly in Naples in April 1819, and the revolution there encouraged Barbaja’s entire theatre company to move for the 1822 opera season to Vienna, where Rossini’s work was still beloved. The traveling couple very shortly make their way to Vienna for a working honeymoon, where Rossini will eventually meet Beethoven.

Even though they will eventually separate due to Colbran’s gambling addictions, Rossini always considered her the greatest interpreter of his operas.