Donizetti was one of the leading composers of the bel canto opera style in the first half of the nineteenth century, along with Gioachino Rossini and Vincenzo Bellini. He resolved to write a requiem mass during the final stages of rehearsal of Lucia di Lammermoor, when news reached him of his friend Bellini’s death. He seems to have completed the work promptly, but the the first known performance is as late as 1870.
Anyway, it’s an intense but often lively piece in an Italian operatic style. We’ve been rehearsing it for a while now, and I think we’re starting to get the hang of it.