Gaetano Donizetti was among the most important composers of bel canto opera in both Italian and French in the first half of the nineteenth Century. Many of Donizetti's more than 60 operas are still part of the modern repertoire and continue to challenge singers for their musical and technical demands. Donizetti stands stylistically between Rossini and Verdi; his scenes are usually more expanded in structure than those of Rossini, but he never blurred the lines between set pieces and recitative as Verdi did in his middle-period and late works. Often compared to his contemporary, Bellini, Donizetti produced a wider variety of operas and showed a greater stylistic flexibility, even if he never quite achieved the sheer beauty of Bellini's greatest works. Donizetti was educated in Bergamo, the town of his birth, studying with the opera composer Simon Mayr from 1806 to 1814. His youthful works include chamber operas, religious works, and some chamber music. Donizetti's first opera of note was La Zingara, which was premiered in Naples in 1822. He continued to work in Naples throughout the 1820's and 1830's, where he was active as both a conductor and composer. In 1830, Donizetti finally achieved international fame with his opera Anna Bolena; notable for its expressive music and more extended scenes, it established Donizetti as one of the leading contemporary opera composers.