The courses of study at the Accademia Rossiniana 2015 have come to an end. The unusually large and enthusiastic audience at the pupils’ final concert fully appreciated the high technical and artistic level reached by the young singers from Italy (7), Spain (4), China (2), Japan (1), Kazakhstan (1), Georgia (1), South Africa (1), Peru (1) and Canada (1).
Apart from the presence of some artists destined to rise rapidly in their profession, people were struck by the consistently high level of Rossini interpretation of the finest quality, leading us to comforting reflections when we remember that until a few years ago to be able to sing Rossini’s music credibly was the privilege of a limited group of acclaimed specialists, mostly hailing from countries of Anglo-Saxon peoples where the works of composers such as Bach, Purcell and Handel are more frequently performed than elsewhere. Baroque and bel canto operas demand a specific vocal training based upon the fascination of restrained and velvety sounds that fill the long legato phrases with fervid inner meaning, and upon the capacity to produce astonishing effects with vocal artifices (trills, swellings and dyings, cadenzas, embellishments…) obtained together with an inexhaustible variety of dynamic colourings, the obligatory complement to an elegant and aristocratic vocal style, taking due care of intimate, idealized expression rather than the externalized emotions and peremptory theatrical gesticulation required by the impetus of late nineteenth century romanticism and the exasperated exaggeration of early twentieth century verismo.
The singing schools of many countries, Italy above all, intent on drawing out of the human voice all the functional intensity necessary to reach audiences in buildings created to accommodate ever more numerous and ever more exigent orchestras and audiences, neglected to train voices in graceful singing and acrobatic virtuosity and gave more attention to the sonority of timbre and the power of the predatory high note.
Today our decision to respect the composer’s wishes with regard to performance, printed in critical editions arising from new standards of performance based on philological accuracy, makes the performers’ tasks much more difficult than in the past, forcing them to reconcile the search for precious interpretative shadings with the necessary faithful execution of the letter of the score.
To this must be added the growing tendency of stage directors to underline the theatrical and choreographic aspects of theatrical works no longer destined exclusively for theatre audiences, but for the more distant and more numerous audience through television and the web: today the characters in the operas, besides singing well, must make themselves credible and appealing in their gestures and acting, always taking care to present themselves well, exposed as they are to the indiscreet close-ups of the zoom.