BelCanto.si is a group of singers dedicated to the art of Fine Singing, the literal meaning of the Italian term ‘Bel canto’.
Of course, ‘fine singing’ is to be found in many periods of operatic history, going right back to the origins of opera (1601, with Jacopo Peri’s Euridice). However, this term usually applies nowadays to the style of singing found in the operas of composers of the early 19th century such as Bellini, Donizetti, Rossini, Spontini and others.
The philosophy of the group is to apply the principle of ‘fine singing’ to all periods of music, extending from its traditional period in the early nineteenth century into the twentieth century and beyond – the reason being that we believe that the vocal techniques needed to perform the music of the traditional Bel Canto composers are gradually being lost in the early twenty-first century.
There are many reasons for this: one of them is that young singers (and consequently, teachers, conductors and agencies) no longer have the patience to study technique properly and develop the voice slowly, enabling them to sing the repertoire most suited to their voice type and abilities. Everyone is in a hurry to get on the stage and perform ‘big’ roles – how often we read or hear of some “new, young tenor” making his debut in a role that is manifestly beyond his capabilities, who subsequently disappears from view as his voice quickly deteriorates because he does not have the strength or technique to support the stresses placed upon it. Journalists and agents talk about a singer being “young” as though that was a quality to be admired – it is, if the ‘young’ singer can perform as well as his/her older counterparts, but all too often it just means under-powered, lacking technique and, above all, experience in singing the more demanding roles into which they are pushed by their own impatience and that of their agents and teachers – and, often, inexperienced conductors.
So often we read of a ‘golden age’ of singing – but why is that? Do we not have talents today who could match them? Of course we do! So what makes those singers different? The answer to that question is complicated, but it is in essence a combination of sympathetic conductors who really understand the voice and, in this case, what “Bel Canto” is all about, and singers (and teachers) who are patient enough to develop their skills in the right way, without damaging their voices.
Of course, this does not mean that the singer should sing mechanically, in some technically ‘perfect’ way – perhaps the most important attribute of a singer is his/her ability to move the listener, to arouse the listener’s emotions – joy, excitement, sadness and so on – and (let us assume the singer has a ‘voice’) that requires musicality, ‘soul’ and a technique that will allow to the voice (‘big’ or ‘small’) to carry in the theatre without unnecessary straining (which will be immediately apparent to the listener): in short, ‘Fine Singing’!
This is what the singers in the group aim to achieve with their performances.
We wish you much listening pleasure!