- Bel canto
Bel canto (Bel-Canto) (Italian, "beautiful singing"), an Italian musical term, refers to the art and science of vocal technique which originated in
Italyduring the late seventeenth century and reached its pinnacle in the early part of the nineteenth century during the Bel Canto operaera. Rossini (1792–1868), Bellini (1801–1835), and Donizetti (1797–1848) best exemplify this style, which flourished from approximately 1805 to 1830. Some have credited the 17th-century composer Pietro Cavalli with introducing bel canto, but his smooth and flowing melodic lines belong to a different style from a different era.
Bel canto singing characteristically focuses on perfect evenness throughout the voice, skillful
legato, a light upper register, tremendous agility and flexibility, and a certain lyric, "sweet" timbre. Operas of the style feature extensive and florid ornamentation, requiring much in the way of fast scales and cadenzas. Bel canto emphasizes technique rather than volume: an exercise said to demonstrate its epitome involves a singer holding a lit candleto her mouth and singing without causing the flame to flicker. [Brown, M.A., 1894]
Aside from the bel canto era and the bel canto style of opera, singers can use a bel canto method of singing even in
verismo, Wagnerian, Verdian, and modern styles. Geographical studies suggest that the Italian bel canto technique, like the similar method which formed in Spain, is likely to have developed from the Ancient Vocal Method, a vocal technique that evolved within the ancient cultures of the Middle Eastand Mediterranean. Some ethnomusicologists may support this fact. Miguel Fletawas regarded by his native Spainas the "Lord High Keeper of the Seal of the Ancient Method". Fleta's voice was rich and farily powerful; qualities that seemed to assist his miraculous facility in pianissimo, coloratura, range, legato, and messa di voce. (His operatic career was short, however, because his voice became chronically unsteady.) Other singers with powerful voices who have used the bel canto technique include Lillian Nordica(1857-1914), Florence Austral(1892-1968), Johanna Gadski(1872-1932), Eva Turner(1892–1990), Rosa Ponselle(1897-1981), Elena Nicolai(1905–1993), [http://www.ucis.pitt.edu/opera/OFB/stars/maz01.htm Todor Mazarov] (Masaroff) (1907–1975), Ghena Dimitrova(1941–2005) and Maria Caniglia(1904–1979).
While historians typically date the bel canto period to the early 19th century, the term itself did not come into common usage in its current sense until the middle of the 19th century. At that time composers such as Wagner began to call for larger, more dramatic voices, "but he intended for those voices to retain the bel canto approach; to sing his operas as one would sing Bellini's Norma. However, the practice at the
Bayreuth Festivalin the period after Wagner's death was to declaim his scores with an unmusical emphasis on the articulation of consonants in the libretto, thus giving rise to the so-called "Bayreuth bark"."Jacocks (2007)] Opponents of this trend complained, with Rossini: "Alas for us, we have lost our bel canto."
sopranos Maria Callas(1923–1977), Joan Sutherland(1926– ) and Montserrat Caballé(1933– ), and the mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne(1934– ) probably best exemplify the bel canto singers of the post-war period. ( Virginia Zeani(1925– ) and Leyla Gencer(1928–2008), both bel canto sopranos of significant ability, made fewer recordings and thus their fame suffered by comparison in America.) In more recent years, June Andersonhas had considerable success in Europe and the United States, focusing almost exclusively on soprano roles in the bel canto repertoire.
For many years, few
tenors sang bel canto: Alfredo Kraus(1927–1999) has been a good instance of them; however, since the débuts of Salvatore Fisichella, Chris Merritt and Rockwell Blakethey have started to reappear. Some commentators regard Raúl Giménez, Juan Diego Flórezand William Matteuzzias skilled contemporary bel canto tenors; other commentators demur, however, given the clear and distinct differentiation between the bel canto "technique" and the bel canto "repertoire" (the latter of which the said tenors sing often and successfully). [See Ciampa, "The Twilight of Belcanto," Prologo.] Although he was not an opera singer per se, tenor Mario Lanza(1921–1959) also employed the bel canto technique to his singing, especially in the earlier part of his career.
* [http://it.youtube.com/watch?v=wUW3N28Xgpo Edita Gruberova, Bellini's I puritani]
* [http://it.youtube.com/watch?v=nHXxu0wwUWU Mariella Devia, Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor]
* [http://it.youtube.com/watch?v=cFfKzhYMS-k Salvatore Fisichella, Bellini's I puritani]
* "Bel Canto: A Theoretical and Practical Vocal Method".
Mathilde Marchesi. Dover (1970) ISBN 0-486-22315-9
* "Bel Canto". James A. Stark. University of Toronto Press (2003) ISBN 0-8020-8614-4
* "Bel Canto: Principles and Practices". Cornelius L. Reid. Joseph Patelson Music House (1950) ISBN 0-915282-01-1
* "Extracts From Vocal Art" by M. Augusta Brown, in "The Congress of Women", Mary Kavanaugh Oldham (ed.), Chicago: Monarch Book Company (1894), p. 477. Available online from the [http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/eagle/congress/brown.html University of Pennsylvania] Digital Library (accessed
26 April 2007)
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BEL CANTO — BEL CA Expression italienne («beau chant»). Du XVIIe au XIXe siècle, le bel canto désigne l’ensemble de la technique de l’art vocal classique italien, qui préférait à la clarté du sens des paroles la virtuosité et la plénitude du son, le phrasé,… … Encyclopédie Universelle
Bel canto — (it.) 1 m. Mús. Arte del canto según el estilo de la ópera italiana de los siglos XVII y XVIII. 2 Por extensión, la ópera. * * * bel canto. (Del it. bel canto). m. Arte del canto según determinado estilo de la ópera italiana. * * * Bel canto es… … Enciclopedia Universal
bel canto — /bel kan toh, kahn /; It. /bel kahn taw/, Music. a smooth, cantabile style of singing. [1890 95; < It: lit., fine singing, equiv. to bel (c. BEAU) + canto (see CANTO)] * * * ▪ vocal music Italian“beautiful singing” style of operatic singing … Universalium
bel\ canto — [ bɛlkɑ̃to ] n. m. inv. • 1895; mots it., « beau chant » ♦ L art du chant selon la tradition de l opéra italien des XVIIe et XVIIIe s. Être amateur de bel canto. Chanteur, chanteuse de bel canto (BEL CANTISTE n. ) … Encyclopédie Universelle
bel canto — (Del it. bel canto). m. Arte del canto según determinado estilo de la ópera italiana … Diccionario de la lengua española
bel canto — bel can|to sb., et (en italiensk sangstil), i sms. bel canto , fx bel canto kor (jf. § 57. Bindestreg.7.a) … Dansk ordbog
bel canto — el canto (b[e^]l k[aum]n t[ o]), n. [It., beautiful singing.] (Music) a cantabile style of operatic singing characterized by purity and evenness of tone, and a precise but brilliant vocal technique displaying ease and agility. [PJC] … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
bel canto — [bel΄kän′tō] n. [It, lit., beautiful song] a style of singing characterized by brilliant vocal display and purity of tone … English World dictionary
bel canto — ит. [бэль ка/нто] belcanto [бэлька/нто] бельканто, термин итал. вок. школы букв. прекрасное пение … Словарь иностранных музыкальных терминов