“It is an important matter to train the voice in flexibility. Even voices which are naturally rebellious and heavy are sure to gain by it in mellowness and beauty.” – Giovanni Battista Lamperti
Giovanni Battista Lamperti (June 24th 1839-March 18th 1910) was an Italian singing teacher and author of the book “The Technics of Bel Canto”. In his lifetime, Lamperti had successful studios in Milan, Paris, Dresden and Berlin. He was, perhaps, even more acclaimed in writing after his death, when his former student wrote the book “Vocal Wisdom; Maxims of G.B. Lamperti”. A book that broke down his approach to teaching. As the son of Franceso Lamperti, an extremely well-known singing teacher, he grew up with fantastic coaching and musical experiences all around him.
Giovanni was not big on compliments in his teaching, but chose to take more of a “credit where credit is due” approach. However, he was known as an extremely effective teacher; implementing many exercises and teachings of Bel Canto. In general, he preferred to teach mini masterclass style, with 3-4 students at lessons; having the others turn their backs while one student sang and he taught/gave feedback. (Original blind auditions!) His teachings were definitely based on the side of a student hearing, sensing and psychologically governing their voices.
Giovanni is known as the “younger Lamperti”. Growing up in the shadow of an incredible voice teacher had its blessings as well as its curses. From a very young age, Giovanni was the piano accompanist in his father Franceso’s acclaimed voice studio. Francesco was a teacher who emphasized the physiological side of voice, and taught some things that Giovanni didn’t necessarily agree with at a later age. In his career, Giovanni got the claws out a few times with his father, and is quoted as saying things like…
“At my father’s death he had great fame and no money; at my death I will have a reasonable amount of fame and a large income.”
They differed in many areas when it came to teaching. For instance, Francesco was big into teaching “staccati” singing exercises, whereas Giovanni felt that pushing people into that style, if they weren’t inclined to do so, could cause vocal injury. However, they both firmly believed that breath was the basis of great singing.
Both with the teachings of his father, and on his own, there is no doubt that Giovanni Battista Lamperti contributed an immense amount of knowledge, and practical application to the study of voice, and helped shape how we teach and learn to sing today.
Words of Advice from Giovanni Battista Lamperti:
In regard to trying to make the same vocal technique/practices fit every voice:
“It does great mischief to make one shoe fit every foot.”
The chief requirements of the singer are:
“…voice, musical talent, health, power of apprehension, diligence and patience.”
And from his book “The Technics of Bel Canto”:
“It is an important matter to train the voice in flexibility. Even voices which are naturally rebellious and heavy are sure to gain by it in mellowness and beauty.”
Giovanni Battista Lamperti’s particularly notable students include famous opera singers such as:
Irene Abendroth, David Bispham, Agnes Huntington, Franz Nachbaur, Marcella Sembrich and Robert Stagno.
- Stone, Edgar. “Francesco and Giovanni Lamperti – A Comparative Study of their Vocal Pedagogy.” Journal of Singing, vol. 36, no. 4, 1980 Mar/Apr, start page 20. nats.org, https://www.nats.org/cgi/page.cgi/_subscription.html?cmd=dl&file=5ED8qhfwgvNSgDS0LhVqg9NIAa6F_21JTS9z9lCVehJ.
- Coffin, Berton. “The Technics of Bel Canto: Giovanni Battista Lamperti.” Journal of Singing, vol. 39, no. 3, 1983, start page 30. nats.org, https://www.nats.org/cgi/page.cgi/_subscription.html?cmd=dl&file=5ED8qhfwgvNSgDS0LhVqg9NIAa6F_21Jbm94XF9R3eP