The Future of Bel Canto

Bel Canto is destined to live despite the intricacies and sudden jars of modern music.

The tide will ebb and flow and when art continues to get more and more intricate during a certain period, a reaction finally occurs and back we go for another spell toward simplicity. In Painting, Sculpture and Literature this has always been true.

So we need not think that Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi were the last of the simple melodists. When people are tired of being amazed they will want to be charmed. Perhaps not so far ahead in the future there are great composers with missions to lead us out of the turmoil of everything going on at once.

Music may have its Manet, its Whistler.

This future age of Bel Canto will not be an imitation of the early 19th century Italian masters, but a development of them.

The rhythms, the harmonic backgrounds, the musical figures and orchestral colorings will be different — of the period, whenever it occurs — but men will always return to Bel Canto for their greatest delight.

Singers of the Bel Canto school will always be honored.

Even in the music of today, the most tuneless of it, the most intricate and declamatory, the voice trained in the free old Italian style, well supported by the breath, is by far the most effective. For Bel Canto does not necessarily imply the sacrifice of dramatic qualities to the lyric. On the contrary free floating tones will lend themselves the most readily to variety of expression and real dramatic fervor. The great artists I heard years ago and Chaliapin of today prove that.

Duval, John H. The Secrets of Svengali on Singing, Singers, Teachers and Critics. JT White & Company, 1922.

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