Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Verismo opera: how bel canto technique protected the voices of its singers

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posted on 2021-12-08, 19:31 authored by Chen, Zeyu

Verismo is a style of opera composition that was influenced by a significant movement in Italian literature from the end of the nineteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century. It is characterised by the true-to-life portrayal of rural or urban poverty, often showing a robust regional lifestyle as well as serving as the introduction to the region's representative songs and dances. Historically, the singing of verismo opera posed some problems for singers in regards to their stamina and the longevity of their career. As a student, I attempted to sing this type of music, but I felt unable to sing it well; my difficulties and the problems associated with the performance of verismo, therefore, fascinated me. Rationalising that proper vocal technique was the answer to these problems, I then concentrated on long-term systematic bel canto training in China and New Zealand.  In most cases, the study of bel canto technique is a fundamental part of the process of learning vocal music for classical singers. In addition to laying out the background of verismo and bel canto, my exegesis demonstrates how singers can learn to sing verismo opera well without damaging their voices, which will help them extend their stamina and the length of their career. I especially investigate the differing use of the body needed for singing each type of music. Researching bel canto, I have listened to different singers' recordings and have written short critiques of their voices, focusing on how they developed bel canto to sing verismo. I have focused on bel canto and verismo works for my repertoire and can apply the techniques safely based on bel canto training. To articulate this knowledge, I take three different arias (one bel canto aria, two verismo arias) as case studies to analyse, to demonstrate the points I want to make. In addition, as a native Mandarin Chinese speaker, I focus on how Mandarin native speakers deal with singing Italian, and I articulate techniques to help other Mandarin speakers learn bel canto. Overall, my research will have practical and artistic value for younger students in helping them to understand the challenges of singing verismo opera.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Musical Arts

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Musical Arts

Victoria University of Wellington Unit

University Library

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

New Zealand School of Music


Medlyn, Margaret