bel canto


(Italian, ‘beautiful singing’)

Bel canto is a lyrical, melodic style of singing that contrasts with a more dramatic, speechlike style.

The bel canto technique began in the mid-17th century and dominated opera for nearly two hundred years.

By the mid-19th century, however, trends encouraged heavier and more dramatic singing, and by 1900, bel canto was almost dead.

But the late 20th century brought a resurgence of the technique, and many opera singers returned to the more expressive, smooth, and melodic style, placing renewed emphasis on vocal agility, tonal quality, and phrasing.

• If you take away bel canto, opera is nothing more than actors
yelling at the audience.