Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Being into Bel Canto or Business

Bel Canto, beautiful singing, is a vehicle to showcase the voice that requires a lot of improvisation. Audiences live for this and singers die because of it. The style is rigorous and challenging and requires a musicality and technique that is next to none. In fact, any operatic style requires a kind of improvisation of what’s on the printed page. No matter how many times the role or aria is performed singers have to sing as if for the first time.

Maria Callas was pure genius at this. Perhaps she got her practice through singing Bel Canto. She was the best at it. By sheer musical and dramatic interpretation Callas created the role or aria anew every time. Audiences loved her for this. I'm sure she would have gotten many rose petals. In the late 17th century, the beginning of Bel Canto, approval or disapprove was immediate. Singers were met with tomatoes or rose petals. How's that for immediate customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction?!

Bel Canto reminds me of the necessity of the process of innovation (a kind of improvisation of trial and error) in the business world. There is the necessity here to begin anew without constrictive preconceived notions of how things are to be done while moving within a certain necessary structure. Innovation requires new thoughts and actions, but without structure the process can be unmanageable.

Business is like Bel Canto, where improvisation is obligatory to showcase the voice for a job well done but within certain tones of a scale. In Bel Canto coloratura, improvisation with the use of extensive ornamentation and fast scales, is not on the printed page but improvised within the same tonality. Business also requires both structure and innovation. But as with improvisation, innovation can be risky. In fact, singing coloratura is always risky but the result can be thrilling and exciting for the singer and audience. The same can be said of the outcome of business innovation and customers.

As Bel Canto needs improvisation and dramatic impetuses to breathe, business needs continuous innovation to live.

Tom Peters says, "Innovate or Die."


wmmbb said...

You disappointed me, Judith. I expected you to have your favorite Maria Callas Bel Canto video.

By the way, what are your suggestions?

judith ellis said...

Sorry, wmmbb. There are a great many recordings of Maria Callas sing Bel Canto arias. Anything by Bellini, Donizetti, or Rossini will be great. "Son Vergin Vezzosa," from I Puritani is a favorite as well as "Casta Diva" from Norma.

Besides the Bel Canto arias of Callas, I also have a great many CD's of her singing arias from the Verismo period, a more dramatic period in which Puccini, Verdi, Giocondo and Chenier composed.

If you've seen the movie Philadelphia with Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington, one of my favorite recording of La Mamma Morta by Chenier is used. Highly dramatic piece and a great performance by Callas.

The Philadelphia recording is on youtube, but I would recommend the other there sans the Hanks voiceover. I will undoubtedly include Callas here at some point as she has been an inspiration since my youth.