Bel Canto

The Italian vocal technique of the 18th century, with its emphasis on beauty of sound and brilliance of performance rather than dramatic expression or romantic emotion.  In spite of repeated reactions against "bel canto" (or its abuses, such as display for its own sake) and the frequent exaggeration of its virtuoso element (coloratura), it must be considered a highly artistic technique and the only proper one for Italian opera and Mozart.  Its early development is closely bound up with that of the Italian opera seria (A. Scarlatti).  More recently the term "bel canto" has been associated with a mid-17th-century development represented by L. Rossi (1597-1653) and G. Carissimi (1605-74), who cultivated a simple, melodious vocal style of song-like quality, without virtuoso coloraturas.