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“Beautiful” Singing: Understanding the Italian Way

Event information

START DATE 31 October 2017
START TIME 06:15pm

Concert Room, Grove Building, Middlesex University, The Burroughs, Hendon, London, NW4 4BT

END DATE 31 October 2017
END TIME 08:00pm

Presented by Barbara Gentili (Royal College of Music)

Why do Britons and Italians have such different ideas about what constitutes a ‘good’ voice? One reason is surely that the two countries have given birth to two vastly different vocal cultures. The Italian conception of a good voice is rooted in a very specific tradition known as bel canto. This tradition itself underwent a profound transformation during the last part of the 19th century, which reinforced the notion of the Italian voice as something unique.

I will highlight the way in which this evolution was connected with the changing ‘spirit’ of Italian society at the turn of the 20th century. In gross terms, we could define bel canto as the language of the fading aristocracy and verismo as the voice of the awakening bourgeoisie. In my talk I will describe this process, showing how the bel canto tradition gave way to the ‘modern’ singing of verismo.

Opera singer and music historian Barbara Gentili is currently completing her doctoral thesis on ‘The changing aesthetics of vocal registration in recordings, 1900­–25’. Her research focuses on the influence that verismo opera exerted on the late nineteenth-century Italian vocal operatic tradition. This project is informed by her own performing experience in the roles of the giovane scuola repertoire (Puccini, Mascagni, Leoncavallo) as well as in those of Italian and French romantic operas. Gentili has written for The Spectator, Opera and Il Giornale della Musica.

This is a free event open to students, staff and the public. No registration is required.

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