Bel Canto Archive

  • As the first full-length treatise ever to be published on singing, Tosi revealed to the world the secret method that accounted for the unworldly vocal abilities of the famous castrati.

    “Observations on the Florid Song” by Pier Francesco Tosi (1723)

    As the first full-length treatise ever to be published on singing, Tosi revealed to the world the secret method that accounted for the unworldly vocal abilities of the famous castrati.

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  • The legacy of the castrati has continued to invisibly affect opera even until today. As castrati disappeared, their expertise of lightness and agility went out of demand as power and expression became the new aesthetic. Still, we marvel at the chimera of the past, ambiguous creatures of an age that performed at a level we can never attain.

    The Castrati (Part 6): Modern Mythology and Unseen Influence

    The legacy of the castrati has continued to invisibly affect opera even until today. As castrati disappeared, their expertise of lightness and agility went out of demand as power and expression became the new aesthetic. Still, we marvel at the chimera of the past, ambiguous creatures of an age that performed at a level we can never attain.

    Continue Reading...

  • At their height in the late 1700s, castrati were popular all over Europe in opera seria, as well as as composers, dramatists, court performers, and teachers. By then, however, they had already begun to be scarce.

    The Castrati (Part 5): Decline of the Castrati

    At their height in the late 1700s, castrati were popular all over Europe in opera seria, as well as as composers, dramatists, court performers, and teachers. By then, however, they had already begun to be scarce.

    Continue Reading...

  • The instrument created through this partnership of altered nature and arduous nurture had a profound effect on voice training as well as a musical movement already craving for the spectacular. The unprecedented skill of the castrati demanded improvements in singing technique for all voice types. With the acceptance of the castrato voice, preferences of timbre also began to change so clear and strong voices were favored over soft and airy.

    The Castrati (Part 4): The Castrati Effect

    The instrument created through this partnership of altered nature and arduous nurture had a profound effect on voice training as well as a musical movement already craving for the spectacular. The unprecedented skill of the castrati demanded improvements in singing technique for all voice types. With the acceptance of the castrato voice, preferences of timbre also began to change so clear and strong voices were favored over soft and airy.

    Continue Reading...

  • In cursorily observing the accomplishments of the castrati it is easy to conclude that the procedure of castration does something amazing to a boy’s throat to make him an incredible vocalist. This, however, is not completely true.  Certain abnormalities caused by pre-pubertal castration, in conjunction with extensive training equipped the castrati to potentially sing in a way that cannot without these procedures be replicated.

    The Castrati (Part 3): The Castrati Advantage

    In cursorily observing the accomplishments of the castrati it is easy to conclude that the procedure of castration does something amazing to a boy’s throat to make him an incredible vocalist. This, however, is not completely true. Certain abnormalities caused by pre-pubertal castration, in conjunction with extensive training equipped the castrati to potentially sing in a way that cannot without these procedures be replicated.

    Continue Reading...

  • As musical tastes moved from polyphony to monody and operas began to be performed, castrati were initially no more favored than any other voice type: roles were assigned to whomever was available, regardless of their register.  By 1680, however, the castrati had taken over the leading and often the secondary roles in the opera.

    The Castrati (Part 2): Castrati in Opera

    As musical tastes moved from polyphony to monody and operas began to be performed, castrati were initially no more favored than any other voice type: roles were assigned to whomever was available, regardless of their register. By 1680, however, the castrati had taken over the leading and often the secondary roles in the opera.

    Continue Reading...

  • The foundations of the bel canto method and style were laid during the creation of opera and monody solo singing in the late 16th century. As the new art form developed, virtuoso singers emerged on the international scene with almost inhuman agility...

    Bel Canto Singing: Tosi’s “Observations on the Florid Song”

    The foundations of the bel canto method and style were laid during the creation of opera and monody solo singing in the late 16th century. As the new art form developed, virtuoso singers emerged on the international scene with almost inhuman agility...

    Continue Reading...

  • "Classical” singing as we know it today owes much of its technique and style to the “old Italian school,” developed during the 17th and 18th centuries. The greatest singers and teachers of this tradition (including Porpora, Tosi and much later, the Lampertis) relayed the accumulated wisdom...

    Updating Bel Canto: J.F. Botume’s “Modern Singing Methods”

    "Classical” singing as we know it today owes much of its technique and style to the “old Italian school,” developed during the 17th and 18th centuries. The greatest singers and teachers of this tradition (including Porpora, Tosi and much later, the Lampertis) relayed the accumulated wisdom...

    Continue Reading...

  • Giovanni Lamperti and his father Francesco carried on the illustrious banner of the “old Italian School” of voice training through the 19th century. While the method was perhaps uncomfortably short on scientific analysis for a modern, industrial world  it was long on histories of success...

    The Old Italian School of Singing: Lamperti’s “The Technics of Bel Canto”

    Giovanni Lamperti and his father Francesco carried on the illustrious banner of the “old Italian School” of voice training through the 19th century. While the method was perhaps uncomfortably short on scientific analysis for a modern, industrial world it was long on histories of success...

    Continue Reading...

  • In the only treatise he ever wrote, Lamperti the younger shares with all students, teachers and enthusiasts of singing, the techniques and skills that made his students that greatest singers of their time: the arcane secrets of bel canto.

    “The Technics of Bel Canto” by Giovanni Battista Lamperti (1905)

    In the only treatise he ever wrote, Lamperti the younger shares with all students, teachers and enthusiasts of singing, the techniques and skills that made his students that greatest singers of their time: the arcane secrets of bel canto.

    Continue Reading...