B1733. Rodolfo Celletti. Histoire du Bel Canto. France, Fayard, 1987. 280pp. Illus. (French Text) (Pictorial thick paper covers) - 2-213-01924-X 9782213019246
“Bel canto singing was a historical phenomenon which embraced Italian opera of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It required infinite variety of sound, in particular a lyrical ecstacy, a faultless technique to dispatch the vocal pyrotechnics demanded of it, and earned itself eloquent praise as 'the singing which is heard within the soul'.
Rodolfo Celletti, who has devoted his whole career to studying the voice from every historical, technical, and musical aspect, offers here a fascinating history of bel canto singing and the voice in operatic literature. He begins by discussing the links of bel canto with the operatic ideals of the baroque, and points out that the style was created as much by operatic composers and their librettists as by their executants, the singers. To this end he undertakes a review of Italian opera of the period, and traces the development of the style in different composers and their works. There is a chapter on Castrati - the voice par excellence of bel canto - and the art of singing in their day. The final chapter looks at the history of bel canto since Rossini, charting its death and resurrection.
Celletti was born in Rome on 13 June 1917. He served in the Italian army from 1937 to 1943, and after World War II, took a degree in law from the University of Rome. He became a successful business executive in Milan, and then created a second career for himself as a (self-taught) musicologist and critic. For many years he was the music critic of the Italian weekly magazine EPOCA and was a regular contributor to LA REPUBBLICA, L'OPERA, NUOVA RIVISTA MUSICALE ITALIANA, OPERA, and AMADEUS. In addition to his articles in specialist publications and THE NEW GROVE DICTIONARY OF OPERA, he published several books, most notably LE GRANDI VOCI (1964), at the time considered the most complete biographical and critical source available on the great operatic voices and STORIA DEL BELCANTO (1983) [above], which has since been translated into English, French, German and Czech.
From 1980 to 1993 he was the Artistic Director of the Festival della Valle d'Itria in Martina Franca. The Festival, which specializes in performing rare operas and the original versions of operas still in the standard repertoire, also provides coaching in vocal performance for young singers. Celletti taught voice both privately and in master classes, many of them at the Festival della Valle d'Itria. Amongst his former pupils are Denia Mazzola, Mariana Nicolesco, Angelo Manzotti, William Matteuzzi, Leonardo Villeda and Ramón Vargas.”
- Olive M. Domina