In my last post I quickly mentioned the fact that Donizetti’s opera Lucia di Lammermoor is a bel canto opera. Here’s a link to a fabulous 3-year old essay by New York Times critic, Anthony Tommasini that can serve as a primer about the bel canto tradition.
Bel canto essentally means fine singing or beautiful singing. A singer who can execute this Italian style of singing can sing both sustained, legato phrases expertly as well as agile, coloratura phrases. This vocal style is evident in the arias of Handel and Scarlatti, but is most identified with the elegant Italian vocal style of the 18th and early 19th centuries.