The phrase was not associated with a „school“ of singing until the middle of the 19th century, die Performer-Methode PDF writers in the early 1860s used it nostalgically to describe a manner of singing that had begun to wane around 1830. Nonetheless, „neither musical nor general dictionaries saw fit to attempt definition until after 1900“.
Författare: Peter Buchenau.
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As generally understood today, the term bel canto refers to the Italian-originated vocal style that prevailed throughout most of Europe during the 18th century and early 19th centuries. The Harvard Dictionary of Music by Willi Apel says that bel canto denotes „the Italian vocal technique of the 18th century, with its emphasis on beauty of sound and brilliancy of performance rather than dramatic expression or romantic emotion. Since the bel canto style flourished in the 18th and early 19th centuries, the music of Handel and his contemporaries, as well as that of Mozart and Rossini, benefits from an application of bel canto principles. A number of these teachers were castrati. These composers wrote bravura works for the stage during what musicologists sometimes call the „bel canto era“. The phrase „bel canto“ was not commonly used until the latter part of the 19th century, when it was set in opposition to the development of a weightier, more powerful style of speech-inflected singing associated with German opera and, above all, Richard Wagner’s revolutionary music dramas. Italian singing model, alleging that it was concerned merely with „whether that G or A will come out roundly“.
French musicians and composers never embraced the more florid extremes of the 18th-century Italian bel canto style. They disliked the castrato voice and because they placed a premium on the clear enunciation of the texts of their vocal music, they objected to the sung word being obscured by excessive fioritura. Hand-written note by contralto Marietta Alboni about the decay of bel canto in the late 19th century. The French text reads: „The art of singing is going, and it will only revert with the sole real music of the future: that of Rossini. The popularity of the bel canto style as espoused by Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini faded in Italy during the mid-19th century.
One reason for the eclipse of the old Italian singing model was the growing influence within the music world of bel canto’s detractors, who considered it to be outmoded and condemned it as vocalization devoid of content. To others, however, bel canto became the vanished art of elegant, refined, sweet-toned musical utterance. Rossini lamented in a conversation that took place in Paris in 1858 that: „Alas for us, we have lost our bel canto“. During the 1890s, the directors of the Bayreuth Festival initiated a particularly forceful style of Wagnerian singing that was totally at odds with the Italian ideals of bel canto. As a result of these many factors, the concept of bel canto became shrouded in mystique and confused by a plethora of individual notions and interpretations. In the 1950s, the phrase „bel canto revival“ was coined to refer to a renewed interest in the operas of Donizetti, Rossini and Bellini.
These composers had begun to go out of fashion during the latter years of the 19th century and their works, while never completely disappearing from the performance repertoire, were staged infrequently during the first half of the 20th century, when the operas of Wagner, Verdi and Puccini held sway. Many 18th-century operas that require adroit bel canto skills have also experienced post-war revivals, ranging from lesser-known Mozart and Haydn to extensive Baroque works by Handel, Vivaldi and others. Musicologists occasionally apply the label „bel canto technique“ to the arsenal of virtuosic vocal accomplishments and concepts imparted by singing teachers to their students during the late 18th century and the early 19th century. Many of these teachers were castrati. All pedagogical works follow the same structure, beginning with exercises on single notes and eventually progressing to scales and improvised embellishments“ writes Potter who continues, „The really creative ornamentation required for cadenzas, involving models and formulae that could generate newly improvised material, came towards the end of the process. Verdi and Wagner and believed in keeping performers on a tight interpretive leash.