Bel Canto Society is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation dedicated to opera. Donations to BCS are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.
Other companies that used to put out similar opera titles have stopped simply because there’s not enough money in it. We cherish this material and go to great lengths to find it, restore it and present it. Putting out rare treasures has become something of our mission.
You can support of efforts by donating to BCS or shopping in our store. We deeply appreciate your help.
Bel Canto Society promotes interest in and appreciation of opera, performance styles and techniques. Our efforts benefit listeners and enthusiasts, as well as performing artists, teachers and scholars. Taken as a whole, the society’s CDs, DVDs, digital content, websites and publications constitute a history of opera singing, from the late eighteenth onward.
Bel Canto Society Celebrates 47 Years of Opera Fanaticism
On November 3, 1968 Bel Canto Society made its debut: a staged Puritani with orchestra, at Spencer Memorial Church in Brooklyn. Since then we have presented 10 operas—including the world premiere of Bellini’s fourth version of his Adelson e Salvini at The Town Hall in New York—and dozens of concerts in Europe and the U.S. We have hosted interviews and master classes with Franco Corelli and have screened films. Besides The Town Hall, the majority of our events have taken place in Gould, Kaye and Merkin concert halls in New York and at Columbia and New York Universities.
From 1982-94 BCS produced “Opera Fanatic” on Columbia University’s WKCR-FM. We publish Opera Fanatic magazine (when we have the money) and have made editions of Bellini’s Adelson e Salvini and Bianca e Fernando as well as works by the tenor Rubini and other 19th-century composers. We also have translated libretti and issued “Stefan Zucker: The World’s Highest Tenor,” “Rossini’s Rivals: Music by Then-Famous, Now-Obscure, Italian Composers” and other LPs.
BCS has issued more than 800 titles on videotape. Those currently available are listed in our store.—Stefan Zucker
Since 1968 we have presented ten operas—including the world premiere of Bellini’s fourth version of his Adelson e Salvini at Town Hall—and dozens of concerts in Europe and the U.S., including six at Merkin Concert Hall. There we also presented an interview with Franco Corelli, in June 1991. At Gould Hall we screened films, and we hosted interviews and master classes with Corelli there and at the Kaye Playhouse. We have made editions of Bellini’s Adelson e Salvini and Bianca e Fernando, as well as works by Rubini and other 19th Century composers, translated libretti, screened other films and issued “Stefan Zucker: the World’s Highest Tenor,” “Rossini’s Rivals: Music by Then-Famous, Now-Obscure, Italian Composers” and other LPs.
Bel Canto Society DVDs, from The Wall Street Journal
With enormous delight, I’ve been watching a very old opera video. My excuse—as if I needed one—was that the video was recently released on DVD, by the invaluable Bel Canto Society . . . . [these] DVDs have a sonic and visual clarity we don’t always see in transfers from old material.—Greg Sandow
“Beyond High C, High Technology,” from The New York Times
“If you don’t get the speed right, not only is the sound off pitch but it is also off in timbre, or sonority.”—Stefan Zucker, quoted by William G. Honan in his article about Zucker, Bel Canto Society, and the pains taken in producing superior CDs and videos of vintage material.
Joseph McLellan, writing in The Washington Post
Bel Canto Society, an organization of and for hard-core opera lovers, has discovered a happy hunting ground for its archaeology: old movies that feature opera singers, and particularly old movie versions of operas.
I have viewed more than a dozen Bel Canto Society tapes and find that they have two things in common.
First, all have some special quality to recommend them—they are chosen with a connoisseur’s knowledge and taste, and will be appreciated by other connoisseurs. Second, the average music-lover, to enjoy them, must be willing to make allowances. Compared with the all-digital, six-camera opera videos now being produced, these tapes are decidedly low-tech, [many are] in black-and-white, most of them lack subtitles, and they frequently involve singers who had little idea how to play to the cameras.
The Traviata (a 1954 film for Italian television) and Pagliacci (a 1951 movie with Gina Lollobrigida miming the recorded voice of Onelia Fineschi) lack the razzle-dazzle impact of Franco Zeffirelli’s later big-screen spectaculars. But other values, emotional and vocal, are richly served—by Tito Gobbi as Silvio and Tonio in Pagliacci, and by Rosanna Carteri, Nicola Filacuridi and Carlo Tagliabue in Traviata.
One more general remark: The blurbs on the packages are remarkably honest about the weaknesses as well as the strengths of these tapes.