Vocal Traditions in Conflict

Vocal Traditions in Conflict
Descent from Sweet, Clear, Pure and Affecting Italian Singing to Grand Uproar
Richard Bethell
Peacock Press
Softback. 410 pages, 254x178x28mm, ISBN: 978-1912271498

This masterly tome comes from Richard Bethell (Secretary of the National Early Music Association) and is clearly a labour of love. Based on 20 years of research into comparative singing styles, Bethell challenges the opera house singing style of the past century as compared to that of the “long 18th-century” between 1650 to 1830. The last 50 or more years have seen a revolution in instrumental playing of early music, including a realisation that vibrato was a rarely used ornament rather than a persistent effect. But the singing world has failed to respond to the lessons learnt, often resulting in glaring inconsistencies in early music concerts between the orchestra and singers.  Continue reading