BEL CANTO SINGING TECHNIQUE
'Bel canto' is the Italian vocal technique and
style of the 18th and early 19th centuries, with its emphasis on beauty
of sound, thus the term which literally means 'beautiful singing'. More
specifically, it is the method of singing a line of music with great
'legato' or smoothness. It is a highly artistic technique and the only
proper one for Italian opera and Mozart.
There are many associations with the term 'bel canto' as with many
terms having to do with singing. Legato phrasing, a rounded tone and
immaculate articulation are just three to mention. What is important is
the foundation that this method can provide for a strong vocal
technique for ANY KIND of singing. As a singer of the 'bel canto'
method for the first part of my career, I can personally attest to its
benefits. I have a clear understanding of this technique having studied
with some very gifted teachers of this method both in Canada, England,
the United States and Italy itself. Italy is the home of 'bel canto'
singing and I was blessed to have studied in Rome for two years (1979 -
1981) with Maestra Rebori and Tito Gobbi, the leading operatic baritone
of his era and a contemporary of Maria Callas. The 'bel canto'
technique is a gift from the Italians.
I would like to make one thing very clear. This does not mean that
anyone exposed to 'bel canto' will sound like an opera singer. To sound
like an opera singer takes many, many years of training and vocal
development. To become an opera singer is to apply the 'bel canto'
technique in its highest and purest form.
And so, it behooves the singer of the musical theatre, jazz and modern
day sound and repertoire to take the principles, I repeat 'the
principles' of 'bel canto' and benefit from them. You don't throw out
the baby with the bath water.
For the musical theatre and popular singer of today, a technique
incorporating the principles of 'bel canto' is excellent. It can be
used with other techniques and affects that are appropriate and
necessary for the style of music being sung and to build the voice
accordingly. To use an analogy: lifting weights in the gym can only be of
benefit to a marathon runner. Being fit is the absolute bottom line.
I have taken the best that the 'bel canto' technique has to offer and
combined it with some more modern day approaches which I have found are
beneficial for those singers who want to sing musical theatre, jazz or
the popular music of our day. As the world changes so does singing with
it. Some things are timeless and ageless. 'Bel canto' is
one of those eternal treasures.