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Bel Canto in Thirty Minutes

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Teatro Nuovo / Online / Music

Tossing off the trills and scales and chiseled embellishments of bel canto takes hard work. In the days of Gioacchino Rossini, grand master of the style, an aspiring opera star could expect 11 or more years of excruciatingly boring exercises. As a pleasurable shortcut for amateurs content to shine in the privacy of a salon, Rossini’s contemporary Nicola Vaccai turned out a slender volume of delicious ariettas designed to build technique without the drudgery. Yet his Metodo Practico di Canto Italiano per Camera cut few corners. Since its original publication in 1833, the manual has never been out of print; the divine Maria Callas herself is known to have warmed up with Vaccai every day. In lockdown, 22 bel cantists associated with Teatro Nuovo have recorded the manual in its entirety, one number each. Among the marquee names: Lawrence Brownlee, Angela Meade, Lisette Oropesa, and Michael Spyres. —M.G.

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