Italian for 'beautiful singing', bel canto refers to both a specific period in the musical history of Italy, 1800-1850, and also to a very appealing and light vocal quality cultivated by Italian Opera singers, especially sopranos and tenors during this period. A prime aspect of the style is the continuity of tone, and the flowing, vowel-rich Italian language lends itself to this. There was emphasis on expressing emotion while sounding as natural as possible. Puccini and Rossini (The Barber of Seville, for example), among others, wrote Operas with bel canto style in mind.
The popularity of the bel canto style waxes and wanes, but it never seems to go completely out of style (for good reason).

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