The Technics of Bel Canto

Publication details: 1905. New York: G. Schirmer. Translated from the German by Dr. Theodore Baker.

Who was Giovanni Battista Lamperti? (1839-1910) One of the most famous voice teachers of the 19th Century, son of famous voice teacher Francesco Lamperti. Lamperti taught in Milan (his hometown), Dresden, and Berlin. His most famous pupils included Marcella Sembrich and Ernestine Schumann-Heink.

What is The Technics of Bel Canto? This short book is the only one Lamperti Jr. ever published (other than the maxims found in Vocal Wisdom, which were attributed to him, but published after his death by his student, William E. Brown). It contains some prose instruction regarding issues of vocal pedagogy, but mostly presents vocal exercises, designed to aid in perfecting skills such as “Blending the Registers”, “The Trill”, and “The Portamento”. Lamperti traced his singing method back to the famous singing masters Gasparo Pacchierotti (d. 1821) and Giovanni Battista Velluti (d. 1861).

Great Quotes from The Technics of Bel Canto:

“I have observed how little attention is paid nowadays to individualizing. No two persons are exactly alike, much less any two pupils, In vocal teaching, especially, it does great mischief to try to make one shoe fit every foot.” (Lamperti, G.B.)

Appoggio…is the steady air-pressure on the vocal cords during tone production.” (Lamperti, G.B., 9)

“In passing from low tones to higher ones the breathing must proceed in a contrary sense: The higher the tones, the deeper the breathing!” (Lamperti, G.B., 12)

“It is an important matter to train the voice in flexibility. Even voices which are naturally rebellious and heavy are sure to gain by it in mellowness and beauty.” (Lamperti, G.B., 15)

“Not until the voice has gained decided agility and facility should the pupil begin to practise [sic] sustained tones, together with the messa di voce (the long, even crescendo and decrescendo.) The diaphragm must work easily and elastically, like India rubber, letting the air stream out gently.” (Lamperti, G.B., 20-21)

“Remark for the Teacher. Less depends on the exercises themselves than on the manner in which they are practised [sic] and applied. Useless fatigue and discouragement can certainly not lead to success in study.” (Lamperti, G.B., 22)

“What, then, is the singing-teacher’s chief problem? Let us take the Italian terms, for once: posare (appoggiare), sviluppare (develop), eguagliare la voce (to place, develop, and equalize the voice). These are now and always the fundamental ideas of the technics of the bel canto.” (Lamperti, G.B. 28)

A beautiful voice without emotional power is like a lovely woman without wit.” (Lamperti, G.B., 34)

“The singer who is once in possession of a perfectly trained voice, will preserve this inestimable treasure till an advance age. How rich a reward for a few years of sensible and diligent study, reinforced by an orderly mode of life! So away with all artificialities and reckless theorizing; let us return to the simple, natural, method!” (Lamperti, G.B., 35)

Hover the cursor over any quote to pause it.

Note: The quotes I have selected do not necessarily reflect my own views on the subjects they address, and they may not be scientifically accurate. They were chosen because they are representative of the author’s views. –Dr. Nielsen