Public Lecture with Robert Toft

Friday 19 May 2017

Room 2174

Level 2, Sydney Conservatorium of Music

Bel Canto: The Unbroken Tradition

Between the 15th and 19th centuries, vocal performance was rooted in oratory, and even though today’s “classically” trained singers do not use the orator as a model, pop and jazz artists prize principles of expression that are remarkably similar to a number of bel canto techniques from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In fact, the differences that set apart pop vocal performance from the lineages of European art music are far fewer than commonly thought, and this presentation explores several of the similarities (pausing, cadence, prosody, messa di voce, tonal quality, appoggiaturas).

Professor Toft’s visit is supported by a Distinguished International Visitor Fellowship with the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions.



Robert Toft

Robert Toft has been involved in the performance practices of singing for most of his career and has given master classes and lectures on historical principles of interpretation at conservatories and universities around the world. He has published five books on the history of singing, most recently With Passionate Voice: Re-Creative Singing in Sixteenth-Century England and Italy (2014). In 2015, together with Dame Emma Kirkby and Nicholas Clapton (Royal Academy of Music), Robert launched the first international summer school devoted to historically informed approaches to Italian bel canto vocal delivery. He is the recipient of a Distinguished International Visitors Fellowship funded by the Australian Research Council for a visit to the Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions in Sydney and Melbourne. In Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council awarded him a research-creation grant for the project ‘From Research to Public Performance: Historically-Informed Re-Creative Singing’.

ticket pricing
  • Free, bookings not required.