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Thread: Bel canto restored

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Bel canto restored

    Dear fellow opera fans,

    I’m new here, really enjoying the discussions and community so far. From what I’ve read, I think you will find plenty to talk about in the videos I have started creating for youtube.

    My aim is to present the results of my ten years of research to as many people as possible. I have reconstructed the singing technique of the 19th century, and am currently working on doing the same for the 18th.

    This is an entirely original and unique project. No one else has succeeded in resurrecting bel canto. They said it couldn’t be done. They said it shouldn’t be done!

    A lot of people would tell you that singing hasn’t changed in hundreds of years, or if it has, it has only improved. I have the evidence to prove them wrong.

    So if you’re curious to know how opera used to sound, if you think there’s something missing from modern singers and don’t know why, or if you’ve ever wondered about how authentic historically informed performance really is, come over to Phantoms Of The Opera! I look forward to seeing you there.

    Here is my latest video. I hope you enjoy it.

    “Let us turn to the past — that will be progress” ~ Giuseppe Verdi

  2. #2
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    A very enjoyable presentation. Welcome to the forum, Phantoms (funny as it feels to greet someone in the plural; I assume you're inhabited by several bel canto spirits). I think you'll find a number of us here who appreciate the fine techniques and styles of singers of bygone eras.

    I was a singer myself in years past, and although I never received a thorough schooling in what I recognize as the true vocal art, I'm grateful to have been exposed to it at an early age through some 78 rpm records left by my great grandfather from Italy. Among them were recordings by Caruso and Galli-Curci, from whom I learned, among other things, what legato is, and how a singer must achieve the proper relationship between the stream of tone and the superimposition of words for true legato singing. So many singers now seem to sing by the word, and try to achieve expression chiefly through the pointing of the text, emphasizing words and syllables to telegraph that they know what they're singing about.

    What I heard in the old singers was very different: an even stream of sound on which the words seemed to float, with the emotion conveyed through the quality of tone and not through emphases placed on syllables. When you listen to them, you can hear that the tone-producing mechanism and the parts of the mouth that create vowels and consonants operated independently of one another, allowing for not only a perfect legato but a great precision and clarity of enunciation, since the production of tone and the pronunciation of vowels and consonants never interfered with each other. To listen to a singer like Galli-Curci or Schipa sing with such consistency of tone and clarity of diction, because they never needed to worry about coordinating their tongues with their throats, is to experience the real beauty and joy of singing.

    I'm watching your YouTube videos, and look forward to more contributions to the forum.

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    It's very interesting to compare what is important to singers and coaches now to what was important to composers back in the day. Even as singing has become choppier, there is a bizarre obsession with diction. What is often meant by diction is exaggerated consonants that only further impair the line. Singers who can't even make a single legitimate operatic sound are told in masterclasses: "There's 't' on the end of that word!" As though that will solve the problem.... Meanwhile, Puccini selected the appropriately named Florence Easton as his first Lauretta even though her Italian diction would probably get her laughed out of any significant theatre. Apparently, her voice was more important than whether she made 'e' a diphthong. Go figure.

    In any case, I've seen a few of your videos, and I find them very interesting and nicely presented. I have a couple questions.
    1. In your video on registers, you describe three registers. You referred, in the video on Si mi chiamano Mimi, to Melba going into another register on her high notes. This difference in sound you point to seems to correspond to that described by This is Opera's concept of girare. , which they describe as an acoustical change in the vowel towards "oo". (They of course, subscribe to two registers, falsetto and chest.) Are you familiar with their ideas about this? If so, what do you think about their notion of girare?

    2. At one point, I believe in your first video, you say that opera styles change all the time, but that the technique remained the same. About when do you think the actual technique itself changed? Do you think the change from 19th to early 20th century and verismo was a change in style or in technique? To my ear, although verismo is a different style, the basic fundamentals of singing (chest voice, chiaroscuro, at least some legato, etc.) remain in place until the 1960s, when they really start to fall apart.

    3. Another question about This is Opera: are you familiar with their ideas on collapsed head voice ? This seems to me one of their most important and thoroughly proved ideas, ie that modern female opera singers essentially sing through a strengthened falsetto, without properly developing chest, which gives them that overly dark sound and a lack of chiaroscuro as well as carrying power. According to them, the solution is to train the chest voice up to about C, and above that to go into girare. The separate training of chest and falsetto finally leads to coordination of the registers, which is why old female singers have chiaroscuro head voice and much more power. Thoughts?

    Always makes me very happy to see someone dedicated to the vocal traditions of the past and to historical recordings. Welcome to the forum!
    Last edited by vivalagentenuova; Feb-10-2020 at 06:10.

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  5. #4
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    re legato, some of my favorite examples of legato singing:









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