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
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.