Luigi LaBlache on Blending the Registers

Luigi Lablache (1794-1858) was one of the greatest and most celebrated basses of the high bel canto period of the nineteenth century.

He studied in Naples, and at the age of 18 appeared at the opera there as a basso buffo, later singing at Palermo, Milan, and Vienna. He had great success in London and Paris as Geronimo in Domenico Cimarosa’s Il matrimonio segreto. In 1836 he lived in London, where with Giulia Grisi, Giovanni Mario, and Antonio Tamburini he was part of the celebrated quartet of singers for whom Gaetano Donizetti wrote his Don Pasquale. He was admired by contemporary composers, among them Franz Schubert, who wrote songs for him.

His book “Lablache’s Abridged Method of Singing” features a technique of integration of the registers which was done through a ‘yodeled’ approach, passing back and forth between the chest and falsetto/head registers. This exercise also is the first mentioned by Garcia in his Traité of 1841. According to a functional logic, yodeling over the break does help a voice ‘muscularly harmonize’ over time, and encourages movements of the two muscle systems of the throat (arytenoid system and crico-thyroid system). It can be a helpful exercise for male voices that are stiff, overweighted, and wooden.

Muscles that can move tend to be more free and flexible than muscles that cannot move.

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