Today, February 29th, only happens every four years in what is a Leap Year day. It is a date added to most years that are divisible by 4, such as 2016, 2020, and 2024. A leap day is added to the Gregorian calendar (365 days) to adjust it to the solar calendar.
With this being Leap Year, we were reminded by our reader, Eli Maor, in Jerusalem that it is also the birthday of famed composer Gioachino Rossini.
According to Wikipedia’s bio of him, Gioachino Antonio Rossini (29 February 1792 – 13 November 1868) was an Italian composer who gained fame for his 39 operas, although he also wrote many songs, some chamber music and piano pieces, and some sacred music. He set new standards for both comic and serious opera before retiring from large-scale composition while still in his thirties, at the height of his popularity.
Born in Pesaro to parents who were both musicians (his father a trumpeter, his mother a singer), Rossini began to compose by the age of 12 and was educated at music school in Bologna. His first opera was performed in Venice in 1810 when he was 18 years old. In 1815 he was engaged to write operas and manage theatres in Naples. In the period 1810–1823 he wrote 34 operas for the Italian stage that were performed in Venice, Milan, Ferrara, Naples and elsewhere; this productivity necessitated an almost formulaic approach for some components (such as overtures) and a certain amount of self-borrowing. During this period he produced his most popular works including the comic operas L’italiana in Algeri, Il barbiere di Siviglia (known in English as The Barber of Seville) and La Cenerentola.
We are also including two of his famous arias from the opera The Barber of Seville and the bios of each of the performers. To listen, simply click on the bolded links.
Aria ‘La calunnia e un venticello’ from Act 1 of Gioachino Rossini’s 1816 opera The Barber of Seville (recorded before 1938) and sung by Russian bass Feodor Chaliapin.
There is a one in 1,461 chance of being a leap day baby and other famous Leap Year birthday babies to name only a few are:
Motivational speaker Tony Robbins is 60
American songstress Dinah Shore
Former NHL goaltender Cam Ward is 36.
Superman – “born” – or bought by DC Comics – on leap year day of 1938
Rappers – Ja Rule and Usher