Speaking and Sighing: Bellini's canto declamato and the Poetics of Restraint

Esse, Melina

Vincenzo Bellini's two successes of the late 1820's- Il Pirata in 1827 and La straniera in 1829- had attracted a great deal of attention in the Italian press, and what drew the most comment was his novel approach to melody. Stripping away ornament to tie melody closely to the rhythms of the spoken word seemed a radical move to audiences who had been taking pleasure in Rossini's florid and showy style for the last two decades. Despite the mixed response from Bellini's contemporaries, modern scholars have tended to understand these melodic reforms in wholly positive terms. Ninteenth -centry critics also tended to understand Beliini's canto declamato as a renunciation of excess. Detactors and supporters alike labeled the new style "filosofico", linking it to the burgeoning Romantic movement in the literary arts.



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October 10, 2014