Thesis Title

Porpora's Grail: A Study and Analysis of Nicola Porpora's Vocal Instruction

Date of Graduation

Spring 2003


Master of Music



Committee Chair

Rose Owens


Nicola Porpora has long been an acclaimed vocal instructor of the Baroque era, yet little is known about his methods of producing singers of a seemingly ethereal nature. It is timely and relevant that an investigation should take place to discover what techniques Porpora used and how he taught them. By examining samples of Porpora's vocalizes, as best as we can ascertaiin them today, one finds not mystique or magic, but structure, practice, and persistence. Though Porpora left no method books in his own hand, the writings of his students impart valuable knowledge as to Porpora's procedures in vocal trianing. His teachings in voice as well as composition influenced several prominent Baroque composers. Porpora was instrumental in the development of the virtuosic Italian style and the case for naturalism in Italian opera. His mastery extended into the Classical era as well. Several of Porpora's techniques are still used today. Vocal instructors continue to put great emphasis on solfeggi for daily training and portamento is still employed as a strength building exercise. Porpora remains today a model of excellence in vocal pedagogy.

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© Katrina L Mitchell