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ABSTRACT. In the context of several theories pointing out the link between psychopathology and artistic creativity the aim of this retrospective investigation, based on Rossini’s various biographies, is to bring into focus the possible impact of the bipolar spectrum disorders and, comorbidly, syphilis on Rossini’s artistic personality. In the first half of his life he was astonishingly prolific, and composed nearly forty operas by the age of 38, many of them being the key to the repertories of modern opera companies worldwide. Several biographies show that his severe manic-depressive crises or perhaps his cyclothymic symptoms played a role in that withdrawal and silence, while in his youth his hypomanic personality traits (e.g. over-inclusive thinking, richness of associations) most probably contributed to his extreme achievements and amazingly fast composing techniques. The available biographies of Rossini and also the kind of music he composed (e.g. bel canto, opera buffa, Rossini crescendo) strongly suggest the medical diagnosis of a bipolar affective illness. His cognitive traits, for one thing, fall into his hypomanic symptomatology – the bipolar mood disorder was actually overrepresented in the composers of those times. pp. 204–209

Keywords: Rossini; opera; Romantic bel canto; musical composition; theatrical conventions; syphilis

CRISTINA-GEORGIANA VOICU
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Post-PhD Fellow, Romanian Academy, Iasi

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