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a style of singing that arose in Italy by the middle of the 17th century and is the basis of the Italian school of singing.
Bel canto is characterized by beauty and plasticity of tone; maximum lightness, flexibility, and facility of singing; smoothness of transition from one note to another; and elegance and virtuosity of performance. These specific characteristics of bel canto, which were inherent in the Italian school of singing at all stages of its development, are related to the tonal color and structural peculiarities of the Italian language as well as to folk song traditions.
While preserving its artistic and aesthetic basis, bel canto was enriched by new techniques of performance. The basic stages in the development of bel canto are the birth of Italian opera, the work of C. Monteverdi, the flowering of the Neapolitan school (A. Scarlatti), the creative period of V. Bellini and G. Donizetti (so-called classical bel canto), the work of G. Verdi, and the verismo school.
Bel canto influenced other national schools of singing. Sometimes the term bel canto means the whole Italian vocal culture or the melodiousness of any vocal performance.
V. V. TIMOKHIN