Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A style of operatic singing characterized by full, even tones and a brilliant display of vocal technique.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An elegant style of singing characterized by beautiful tone and an effortless technique.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. a cantabile style of operatic singing characterized by purity and evenness of tone, and a precise but brilliant vocal technique displaying ease and agility.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a style of operatic singing

Etymologies

Italian : bel, bello, beautiful + canto, singing.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Italian beautiful singing (Wiktionary)

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  • From Wikipedia: Bel canto singing characteristically focuses on perfect evenness throughout the voice, skillful legato, a light upper register, tremendous agility and flexibility, and a certain lyric, "sweet" timbre. Operas of the style feature extensive and florid ornamentation, requiring much in the way of fast scales and cadenzas. Bel canto emphasizes technique rather than volume: an exercise said to demonstrate its epitome involves a singer holding a lit candle to her mouth and singing without causing the flame to flicker.

    February 3, 2008