Francisco Viñas: the art of the castrati II

We have a new entry in our History section with the second part of the third chapter of Francisco Viñas’ 1932 book The art of singing: historical data, advice and guidelines for educating the voice, where he describes the decline of the bel canto:

“Once the castration began to be persecuted, the great schools that fed on the “predestined” children were automatically closed, and the unhappy singing musicians took refuge in the basilicas, where they brought the last sparks of an art that was dying and that would never return.


Castration banned and sopranists unable to perform in theatres —without respect for the most prestigious artists—, “bel canto” quickly declined. The great schools, lacking its first component, which is the initiated child, began to decline, and the departments where teachers specialised in the art of vocal education were trained disappeared. The time for the studies that were necessary to become a good singer was no longer governed by law, and it was shortened. However, for a certain period, the elected singers who inherited the tradition, and were banned from the stage, dedicated themselves to its preservation through teaching, giving rise to another glorious period —the last one— of that dynasty of prominent lyric artists.”

Read the full entry.


Francisco Viñas: el arte de los castrati II

Tenemos una nueva entrada en nuestra sección de Historia con la segunda parte del tercer capítulo del libro de Francisco Viñas de 1932 El arte del canto: datos históricos, consejos y normas para educar la voz, donde describe el ocaso del bel canto:

“Perseguida la eviración, fueron cerrándose automáticamente las grandes escuelas que se alimentaban del  «predestinado»; y los infelices músicos cantores se refugiaron entonces en las basílicas, a las que llevaron los últimos destellos fulgurantes de un arte que iba agonizando y que no volverá nunca más.


Prohibida la eviración e impedidos los sopranistas —sin respetar a los más prestigiosos— de actuar en los teatros, el «bel canto» declina rápidamente. Las grandes escuelas, faltas del primer elemento, que es el niño iniciado, comienzan a decaer, y desaparecen las cátedras donde se forman los maestros especializados en el arte de educar la voz. El tiempo de los estudios necesarios para ser un buen cantor ya no tiene ley, y se abrevia. Sin embargo, durante cierto período se conserva la tradición heredada por los cantores electos que, proscritos de los escenarios, se dedican a la enseñanza, lo que da otra etapa gloriosa —la última— de aquella dinastía de artistas líricos insignes.”

Lee la entrada completa.