The present school and its precedents

The vocal lineage of the school, as does its methodology - never to be confused with method – comes from the teachings of Francesco and Giovanni Battista Lamperti, father and son, and has been passed down through subsequent pedagogues, to that of the present one.


Although these teachings were based on a precise knowledge of vocal anatomy, and a methodology extremely demanding of vocal aspirants, the teaching practice itself had more in common with that employed by masters of the great oriental schools of philosophy. Perhaps the best example of this is Lao Tzu, the father of Taoism, and his wisdom as recorded in Tao Te Ching. The tenet, 'Tao never does; yet through it all things are done.', resonates strongly in many of the recorded observations on vocal emission by the Lampertis.


To cite but a very few –

  • 'Singing is instinctive. Its control is subconscious'.
  • 'The human being is the most perfectly adjusted musical instrument in the world’.
  • 'A teacher can only reveal ourself to ourself'.

The pedigree of the Lampertis needs little elaboration, and speaks for itself. Francesco’s personal friendship with Giuditta Pasta, Giovanni Battista Rubini and others, places him squarely in the great tradition.The ‘output’ of father and son was prodigious, with a veritable procession of celebrated artists, whose names have entered the annals of vocal history, and are simply too numerous to list.


Certain key names, are worth mentioning, in order to highlight the fact that their vocalism transcended the boundaries of musical style, and the national origin of the material they sang. Furthermore, it gives the lie to the notion, so prevalent in our time, that composers of vocal music demanded voices specifically designed to fulfill the requirements of their compositions. Namely, the absurditity of Monteverdian, Handelian, Mozartian, Rossinian, Verdian, Wagnerian and Verismo voices. Such voices did not exist during the time of the relevant composer’s creative output, and are a fabrication of an age that, vocally speaking, had lost its way.


    Pasta, Giuditta
    1797 - 1865


    Rubini, Giovanni Battista
    1794 -1854


The tiny selection of Lamperti pupils set out below, illustrates the point.


Sophie Loewe,  a German soprano who created the title-role in Donizetti's Maria Padilla (indeed, written for her). She was also the Elvira at the premiere of Ernani at la Fenice, as well as the Odabella in Attila, premiered two years later in the same theatre.

< Loewe, Sophie 1815 -1866

Teresa Stolz, the Bohemian constellation, who captivated Verdi in more ways than one, and who together with Maria Waldmann, another Lamperti pupil, created the soprano and mezzo-soprano parts in Verdi’s Requiem. A further coincidence, is that both of these singers were, the Aida and Amneris, respectively, in the first European staging of this opera in Milan.

Stolz, Teresa 1815 -1866 >



Franz Nachbaur, a German tenor, was the first Walther in Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg. A casting that only reinforces the fact, that there were no 'Wagnerian’ tenors in Wagner’s time. There were merely tenors, generally schooled in the Italian tradition, whose voices were deemed both suitable and capable of executing Wagner’s music; in particular, the declamatory aspects of his vocal lines. Effortless declamation being the product of the principle alluded to earlier, that 'singing tone is born at the point of speech'.

< Nachbaur, Franz 1815 -1866

Roberto Stagno, an Italian tenor, born in Palermo, whose vocal versatility in the course of his relatively short life, encompassed not only the operatic output of Rossini and Donizetti, both buffa and seria, but Gounod (Faust), Wagner (Lohengrin),Verdi (Aida, Trovatore etc., ), and finally as the creator of Turiddu, with his wife Gemma Bellincioni as Santuzza, in Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana.

Stagno, Roberto 1815 -1866 >



Aside from confirming the absurdity of the notion of vocal specificity mentioned earlier, the above list of singers destroys yet another myth of our age ie., the existence of ‘national’ schools of singing. Although the origins and development of the vocal emission in question were in Italy, the physiology of the vocal mechanism and its function in the production of vocal tone, is common to all humanity, and thus crosses all national boundaries. If there is any division, or possible barrier, it is only that of language. However, even this is readily surmountable, provided the principles of natural emission are observed.


Only one of the singers listed above is an Italian. Yet all of them, after all, must have sung impressively enough to engage the attention of some of the greatest composers of vocal music. The uniqueness of this vocal tradition lies in its universality. Even Mathilde Marchesi, in one of her more lucid observations, categorically rejects the idea of 'national' schools of vocalism, stating that there is only good, or bad singing.


It is interesting to note that the Lampertis practised their craft in locations far removed from each other; the father exclusively in Italy, the son almost exclusively in Germany. Although both produced treatises on the art of singing, they were adamant that these should never be regarded as a method. In the concluding paragraph of his own preface to the Treatise on the Art of Singing, Francesco Lamperti states – 'I do not wish this guide to be considered as a new method of teaching singing; I would rather suggest it as a counsel, which if wanting in scientific merit, will as the fruit of my experience and study, be of some value.'


His son echoes the sentiment in the final paragraph of his much later essay Preventing the Decadence of the Art of Singing - 'These remarks are, of course, not a "method". They simply explain the causes of the decadence of singing as I have observed them in an experience of many years'. Surely an affirmation of their status as disciples of the great oral tradition.


A product of the collective creative genius of the Italian people, La Scuola del Respiro e dell'Articolazione, together with its timeless principles, and the aesthetic of vocal tone that it furnishes, belongs to all humanity, and should be regarded as one of that nation’s greatest achievements.