Opera in the Romantic Period was a time when opera changed drastically, especially in the country of Italy. The recognition of singers as being important, almost irreplaceable, in the art of “bel canto” opera changed the idea of a vocalist in opera forever. A singer’s voice was prized and Italian composers, like Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini wrote operas and works to showcase the voice, it’s color, range and agility. These Italian composers were moving away from the normal style of composition of the time, and the composer Rossini, who set the stage for many other followers. Many of the operas written during this time are still performed today and are highly acclaimed. For the most part, before Italy became a main player, France and Germany were the main areas for music. These composer’s lives were extremely important in the development of the romantic period of opera and they really put Italy in the eye of the public for their amazing operas and musical styles.
“Bel canto,” which translated literally means “beautiful singing,” was a very important factor taken into consideration in the romantic era. According to Charles Osborne, bel canto singing can be defined as “a method of singing taught by the Italian masters […] in which smooth emission of tone, beauty of timbre and elegance of phrasing are among the most important elements (Osborne, intro).” The main style of voice for this “bel canto” singing is the coloratura. Coloraturas have a very wide range and have a lot of vocal agility, moving from note to note extremely fast. In a lot of romantic music, cadenzas were written with this kind of singing in mind. Image 1 is the score from Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia and shows an example of the coloratura singing. During the romantic period, the shift from opera buffa (even though some of the bel canto operas still were written in the opera buffa style) to more serious, dramatic story lines and roles became very apparent and really called for the act of beautiful singing and dramatic acting. No longer was the orchestra the main component to listen to when attending an opera. Librettists and composers worked extremely close to get the right feel for arias and other pieces in the story.
Bel Canto was a form of singing that was pretty much defined by three Italian composers: Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini. These three composers had huge success in Italy and their operas are still being performed to this day. These captivating operas like Il barbiere di Sivilglia, Lucia di lammermoor, and Norma are three of the most popular and challenging operas that singers can be involved in. These three composers really set the stage for the rise of Italian opera.
Rossini is probably the most popular composer of this era. His works are many and are extremely popular. Rossini was born in Pesaro in 1792 and on December15th, 1815 when he was only twenty-three years old, he signed a contract to write an opera for a theater in Rome...