The Voice | Vocal Power in Romantic Opera | Early Romantic | Opera
The greater drama and intensity, the expanding orchestras and the trend for larger opera houses that marked the early Romantic era placed pressure on singers to increase their voice power to match. A larger opera house, seating more people and employing more orchestral musicians than before, meant a bigger space for voices to fill and greater competition from the accompaniment. The bel canto singing style of the eighteenth century, while undoubtedly beautiful and never out of fashion, even today, had neglected the ‘resonances’ that could reinforce and prolong the sound of a voice. Jenny Lind, the Swedish soprano who made her operatic debut in Stockholm in 1838, was one bel canto soprano who was able to project her voice sufficiently to make it fill a concert hall. However, this ability was not all that common. Singers, therefore, had to go into new, special training in order to acquire weightier timbre, more sonorous low notes and more brilliant top notes so as to cope with the more demanding requirements of Romantic opera. The result was the advent of new types of voice that underlined greater strength and volume, among them the tenor robusto, tenor di forza and dramatic soprano.
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