Operatic voices are divided into 4 categories: soprano (high female), alto (low female), tenor (high male) and bass (low male). There are also 2 intermediate voices: mezzo soprano, female voice and baritone, male voice between tenor and bass. There are many more subtle distinctions used to define the range, tone, colour and timbre of a voice. They developed as a consequence of increasingly demanding roles which required more specific vocal types.
The libretto for Monteverdi’s Opera L’Incoronazione di Poppea was mainly drawn from the roman historians Tacitus. Its leading character is Poppea, the beautiful mistress who became wife to the Roman Emperor Nero, one of the most loved and, at the same time, hated emperor of the ancient Rome. Nero after the great fire of Rome, built on the Colle Oppio, the most lavish and vast villa of the ancient Rome, the Domus Aurea.
Bellini met in Milan an artist who will be fundamental in his career: the librettist Felice Romani, the greatest theatrical poet of his time. Their cooperation lasted for 6 years and Romani, who wrote something like 90 librettos, created for and with Bellini some of his best ones. Bellini was actively involved not only in shaping the subjects but also in writing the verses, to insure the effective delivery of his idea through word and music simultaneously.In Milan Bellini met an artist who was going to be fundamental in his career, the greatest theatrical poet of his time: librettist Felice Romani. Their cooperation lasted for 6 years. Romani, who wrote something like 90 librettos, created for and with Bellini some of his best ones. The first opera produced through this collaboration was Il Pirata The Pirate, an opera that completely electrified the audience in Milan on October 27th 1827, night of the premiere. The newspapers titled “the start of Italian Romantic opera”.
I Capuleti e i Montecchi is considered by many Bellini’s first masterpiece. It certainly recalls in many ways the great belcanto era, particularly in the way the roles are organized: the mezzo-soprano as male protagonist, the soprano as his lover, the tenor as the hero’s rival, bass and bariton respectively as the noble father and the tyrant. However, Capuleti is not strictly a belcanto opera because of its intimate and at times dramatic atmosphere. So much so that the many embellishments, counterbalanced by a well-defined melodic core, are not ornamentation anymore but start to take an expressive connotation.