Music style where beauty of the pitch and vocal virtuosity are the main goal: recurring presence of singing exercises, trills, rolls, dotted notes, improvised paces; extension of the tessitura). It is centered around the melody. It tries to sublimate the language of the characters and exploits more the mythological themes than the history (while the romanticism wants to reach the psychological and dramatic truth).
Its origins are found in the Italian Opera of the 16th century. It is situated between 1680 and 1820 (even if it is still possible to talk about bel canto in Bellini, Rossini or Donizetti’s works). Centered on the individual performance, it is opposed to the polyphonic chant of the Renaissance.
Main composers and singers
From Mozart to Debussy, a lot of classical composers wrote bel canto… Ex. Donizetti (Lucia di Lamermoor)
For the singers, we can quote Alessandro Moreschi (castrato from early 20th century), Maria Callas, June Anderson and Leo Nucci (contemporary artists)
June Anderson and Leo Nucci : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bNZkBFgFbI
Maria Callas (singing a piece written by Donizetti) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpJ2u1MiE7E
Photo : Maria Callas
Post written and published by Françoise Delsaux (Arpege Music Software Development)