TIMELINE OF WORLD HISTORY
 

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  The Best of...
Part I

Bach - Beethoven - Brahms - Chopin -  Handel  - Haydn
Liszt - Mendelssohn
Mozart  -  Paganini  -  Puccini  -  Schubert
Schumann
Strauss  - Tchaikovsky  -  Verdi  -  Vivaldi  -  Wagner

 Part II
The greatest opera singers

1.Voice type - 2.A-C - 3.D-J - 4.K-M - 5.N-Sc - 6.Si-Z
 
     
     
 
 
 
 
CONTENTS
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The Best of... (Part I)
 
 
 
The greatest opera singers - 1 Voice type
 
 
 
 
 
Maria Callas

Joan Sutherland

Anna Netrebko

Enrico Caruso


Feodor Chaliapin
 
 
 
Anna Netrebko, Elina Garanca, Ramon Vargas, Ludovic Tezier
 
The Opera Gala live from Baden-Baden (Armiliato)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Best Opera Songs
 
01 Bizet - Carmen - Habanera
02 Fritz Wunderlich & HEermann Prey - Les pêcheurs de perles - Au fond du temple saint
03 Pavarotti - Nessun Dorma
04 Die Zauberflöte - Aria (Diana Damrau as Queen of the Night)
05 Maria Callas - Madame Butterfly - Vogliatemi bene
06 Elena Obratzsova - Il Trovatore - Condotta ell'era in ceppi
07 Capella Istropolitana - Una Donna a Quindici Anni
08 Jackie Evancho - O Mio Babbino Caro
09 Wagner - Ride of the Valkeryies - Furtwangler
10 Maria Callas, Norma - Casta Diva - Bellini
11 Rossini La Cenerentola Nacqui all'affanno - Cecilia Bartoli
12 Anna Moffo - Ah! Je ris de me voir si belle (Jewel Song)
13 Franco Corelli - E lucevan le stelle - Tosca
14 Luciano Pavarotti - Caruso
15 Luciano Pavarotti - Rigoletto La Dona e mobile
16 Placido Domingo - Granada
17 London Symphony Orchestra - Cavalleria Rusticana
18 Luciano Pavarotti - Celeste Aida
19 Zurab Sotkilava - Eugene Onegin
20 Luciano Pavarotti - Che gelida manina
21 Maria Callas - Mon Coeur S'ouvre A Ta Voix
22 Xerxes, HWV 40 Recitativo and Aria, Ombra mai fu Largo
23 Maria Callas - La Traviata
24 José Carreras - Mattinata
25 Frederica von Stade sings Cherubino's Voi che sapete 1973
26 Placido Domingo - Una furtiva lagrima from L'Elisir D'Amore
27 Papageno-Papagena Duet
28 Maria Callas - Bel raggio lusinghier - Semiramide
29 Maria Callas - La mamma morta
30 Maria Callas Otello - Ave Maria
31 Jackie Evancho - Nessun Dorma - Superb
 
 
 
 
 
 
Great Moments in Opera (Peters, Merrill, Sutherland, Corelli, Farrell, etc.)
 

Leontyne Price -- Vissi d'arte -- from Tosca by Puccini.

Roberta Peters -- Una voce poco fa -- from Il Barbiere di Siviglia by Rossini.

Robert Merrill -- Largo al factotum -- from Il Barbiere di Siviglia by Rossini.

Beverly Sills -- O luce di quest'anima -- from Linda di Chamounix by Donizetti.

Anna Moffo -- Ciascun lo dice -- from La Figlia del Regimento by Donizetti.

Richard Tucker -- Sperai tanto & Vesti la giubba -- from I Pagliacci by Leoncavallo.

Birgit Nilsson -- Pace, pace mio Dio -- from La Forza del Destino by de Verdi.

an Peerce & Robert Merrill -- Le minaccie -- from La Forza del Destino by Verdi.

Maria Callas -- Vissi d'arte -- from Tosca by Puccini.

Joan Sutherland & Marilyn Horne -- Mira, o Norma -- from Norma by Bellini.

Roberta Peters & Robert Merrill -- Dite alla giovane -- from La Traviata by Verdi.

Joan Sutherland -- Sempre libera -- from La Traviata by Verdi.

Lily Pons -- Je suis Titania -- from Mignon by Thomas.

Renata Tebaldi & Franco Corelli -- Vicino a te -- from Andrea Chenier by Giordano.

Eileen Farrell -- Un bel di -- from Madama Butterfly by Puccini.

Dorothy Kirsten & Franco Corelli -- O soave fanciulla -- from La Boheme by Puccini.

Joan Sutherland -- Ardon gli incensi -- from Lucia di Lammermor by Donizetti.

Eileen Farrell -- Pace, pace mio Dio -- from La Forza del Destino by Verdi.

Robert Merrill -- Selections from Aida & La Traviata by Verdi and Carmen by Bizet.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Best Opera Arias: Turandot, La Traviata, Rigoletto, Cavalleria Rusticana, La Boheme, Aida, Norma...
 
1. NESSUN DORMA (Vincerò) da Turandot di Puccini -- Mario Del Monaco
2. SEMPRE LIBERA da La Traviata di Verdi -- Maria Callas ( 3:00 )
3. LA DONNA E' MOBILE da Rigoletto di Verdi - Giuseppe Di Stefano ( 7:00 )
4. VIVA IL VINO SPUMEGGIANTE dalla Cavalleria Rusticana di Mascagni ( 9:29 )
5. SI', MI CHIAMANO MIMI' da La Boheme di Puccini -- Renata Tebaldi ( 12:12 )
6. CELESTE AIDA dall'Aida di Verdi -- Kristian Johannsson ( 17:38 )
7. LIBIAMO, LIBIAMO NE' LIETI CALICI da La Traviata di Verdi -- Ranata Tebaldi ( 22:06 )
8. CASTA DIVA dalla Norma di Bellini -- Maria Callas ( 25:22 )
9. FARFALLONE AMOROSO da Le Nozze di Figaro di Mozart -- Rolando Panerai ( 32:36 )
10. VESTI LA GIUBBA da I Pagliacci di Leoncavallo -- Giuseppe Di Stefano ( 36:01 )
11. DI QUELLA PIRA da Il Trovatore di Verdi -- Giuseppe Di Stefano ( 39:24 )
12. SON VERGINE VEZZOSA da I Puritani di Bellini -- Maria Callas ( 42:36 )
13. SPARGI D'AMARO PIANTO dalla Lucia di lammermoor di Donizetti -- Maria Callas ( 46:17 )
14. LA' CI DAREM LA MANO dal Don Giovanni di Mozart -- Cesare Siepi e Erna Berger ( 50:26 )
15. PARIGI O CARA da La Traviata di Verdi - Renata Tebaldi, Giacinto Prandelli ( 54:11 )
 
 
 
 
 
 
6 Hours NON STOP with the best OPERA masterpieces - The Best Of Opera
 
 
 
 
 
150 Minutes - The best of Opera ( Carmen, Traviata, Così fan Tutte, Aida etc etc )
 
Mozart - Dies Bildnis Ist Bezaubernd Schon
Bizet - Carmen ( Habanera ) 3:52
Verdi - La traviata ( E' strano ) 8:32
Donizetti - Don Pasquale ( Quel guardo il cavaliere ) 17:23
Donizetti - Elisir D'Amore (Una furtiva lacrima ) 22:50
Mozart - Il Flauto Magico 27:40
Mozart - Così fan tutte 30:40
Donizetti - Elisir D'Amore ( Quanto è bella quanto è cara ) 34:21
Weber - Oberon 36:47
Rossini - Il barbiere di Siviglia ( Una voce poco fa ) 39:55
Weber - Oberon ( Ozean ) 46:36
Verdi - Othello ( credo ) 54:42
Verdi - Aida ( Qui Radames verrà ) 59:17
Verdi - Don Carlos ( O Don Fatale ) 1:05:48
Verdi - Il Trovatore ( Stride la vampa ) 1:10:48
Rossini - Guglielo Tell ( Aria des Arnold ) 1:12:22
Mozart - Cara se le mie pene 1:18:44
Verdi - La traviata ( Di Provenza al mare )1:28:52
Rossini - Stabat Mater ( Cuius Amaiman) 1:33:14
Thomas - Mignon 1:39:22
Verdi - Aida ( Celeste Aida ) 1:45:30
Verdi - Il Trovatore ( Tacea la notte placida ) 1:48:49
Verdi - Rigoletto ( La donna è mobile ) 1:53:45
Mozart - Don Giovanni ( batti batti o bel maestro ) 1:56:13
Mozart - Don Giovanni ( Vedrai, carino ) 1:59:40
Verdi - Il trovatore ( All'erta all'erta ) 2:03:11
Wagner - Tristano e Isotta 2:07:50
Verdi - Otello 2:19:00
 
 
 
 
 
The 3 tenors in concert 1994, Los Angeles
 
Recorded live on stage on the eve of one of the worlds greatest sporting events, The 3 Tenors in Concert 1994 re-unites four of classical musics premiere and most popular talents. The legendary tenors José Carreras, Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, together with conductor Zubin Mehta, celebrated the finale to soccers 1994 World Cup with a concert described as probably the biggest single musical event in history.

Brought together for the 1990 World Cup in Italy, The 3 Tenors and Mehta joined forces again, this time in Los Angeles Dodger Stadium on July 16th 1994 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Music Center Opera Chorus, to perform a selection of operatic arias and international favorites specially orchestrated by composer/arranger Lalo Schifrin. The result is an outstanding program, reflecting a unique event, featuring three legendary performers who share a united passion for opera and soccer.

Tracklist:

01. 0:00:18 Orchestra / The national anthem of the USA
02. 0:01:48 Orchestra / Candide Overture. Bernstein
03. 0:06:25 Jose Carreras / O Souverain, O Juge, O Pere
04. 0:11:38 Placido Domingo / Quando le sere al placido. Verdi
05. 0:16:59 Luciano Pavarotti / Pourquoi Me Reveiller. Massanet
06. 0:20:07 Jose Carreras / With A Song In My Heart. Rodgers
07. 0:23:53 Placido Domingo / Granada. Lara
08. 0:27:57 Luciano Pavarotti / Non Ti Scordar Di Me. De Curtis
09. 0:31:45 The 3 Tenors / My Way
10. 0:36:00 The 3 Tenors / Moon River
11. 0:37:39 The 3 Tenors / Because
12. 0:40:05 The 3 Tenors / Singin' in the Rain
13. 0:42:41 Orchestra / Marche Hongroise. Berlioz
14. 0:47:31 Jose Carreras / Tu, Ca Nun Chiagne. De Curtis
15. 0:50:42 Placido Domingo / Amor, vida de mi vida. Torroba
16. 0:54:44 Luciano Pavarotti / Ave Maria. Schubert
17. 0:58:59 Jose Carreras / E lucevan le stelle. Puccini
18. 1:02:07 Placido Domingo / Vesti la giubba. Leoncavallo
19. 1:05:09 Luciano Pavarotti / Nessun Dorma. Puccini
20. 1:09:10 The 3 Tenors / America
21. 1:10:09 The 3 Tenors / All I Ask Of You
22. 1:12:09 The 3 Tenors / Funiculi, Funicula
23. 1:13:29 The 3 Tenors / Sous Les Ponts De Paris
24. 1:15:31 The 3 Tenors / Brazil
25. 1:16:58 The 3 Tenors / Be My Love
26. 1:18:47 The 3 Tenors / Marechiare
27. 1:22:02 The 3 Tenors / Lippen Schweigen
28. 1:24:40 The 3 Tenors / Santa Lucia Luntana
29. 1:28:04 The 3 Tenors / Those Were The Days
30. 1:30:30 The 3 Tenors / Te Quiero Dijiste
31. 1:33:59 The 3 Tenors / Torna A Surriento
32. 1:37:57 The 3 Tenors / La Donna E Mobile
33. 1:40:20 The 3 Tenors / Libiamo Ne' Lieti Calici

 
 
 
 
 
Los Tres Tenores, Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti Paris 1998 concert
 
 
 
 
 
The Three Tenors Christmas Concert Viena 1999)
 
 
 
 
 
Top Ten Soprano Arias Vol. I - Greatest Opera Arias
 
Greatest Soprano Arias Vol. I
"These are the most Basics Arias in Opera"

1.- Casta Diva 00:00
2.- Ah! Je Veux Vivre 6:45
3.- Ebben? Ne Andró Lontana 10:25
4.- Der Hölle Rache 15:18
5.- Où Va la Jeune Hindoue 18:30
6.- Sempre Libera 26:29
7.- Si. Mi Chiamano Mimi 30:17
8.- O Mio Babbino Caro 35:40
9.- Un Bel Di Vedremo 37:53
10.- Vissi D'arte 43:17

 
 
 
 
 
Top Ten Mezzosoprano Arias Vol. I - Greatest Opera Arias
 
Greatest Mezzosoprano Arias Vol. I

Tracklist:
1.- Serena I Vaghi... Bel Raggio Lusinghier - Joyce DiDonato 00:00
2.- L'amour Est Un Oiseau Rebelle - Elina Garanca 10:46
3.- Il Segreto Per Esser Felici - Vivica Genaux 15:29
4.- Voi Lo Sapete, o Mamma - Elena Obraztsova 18:47
5.- Una Voce Poco Fa - Cecilia Bartoli 22:44
6.- Cruda Sorte! Amor Tiranno! - Marina Domashenko 28:30
7.- Nacqui All'affanno... Non Piu Mesta - Teresa Berganza 33:00
8.- Divinites Du Styx - Marylin Horne 40:06
9.- Tanti Affetti... Fra Il Padre - Vesselina Kasarova 44:43
10.- Acerba Voluta - Dolora Zajick 52:36
11.- Werther! Werther! Qui M'aurait - Shirley Verret 56:50
12.- La Luce Langue - Agnes Baltsa 01:04:24

 
 
 
 
 
Voice type

Soprano   -   Mezzo-soprano   -   Contralto

Male voices

Countertenor   -   Tenor   -   Baritone   -   Bass

 
 
 
Soprano

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A soprano is a type of classical female singing voice and is the highest vocal range of all voice types. The soprano's vocal range (using scientific pitch notation where middle C is written as "C4") is from approximately middle C (C4) to "high A" (A5) in choral music, or to "soprano C" (C6, two octaves above middle C) or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which usually encompasses the melody. For other styles of singing see voice classification in non-classical music.
Typically, the term "soprano" refers to female singers but at times the term "male soprano" has been used by men who sing in the soprano vocal range using falsetto vocal production instead of the modal voice. This practice is most commonly found in the context of choral music in England. However, these men are more commonly referred to as countertenors or sopranists. The practice of referring to countertenors as "male sopranos" is somewhat controversial within vocal pedagogical circles as these men do not produce sound in the same physiological way that female sopranos do. Michael Maniaci is able sing the modal voice like a woman because his larynx didn't fully develop during puberty.  Radu Marian is also able to sing in the modal voice because he never went through puberty, and is considered to be a "natural" castrato. In choral music, the term soprano refers to a vocal part or line and not a voice type. Male singers whose voices have not yet changed and are singing the soprano line are technically known as "trebles". The term "boy soprano" is often used as well, but this is just a colloquialism and not the correct term.
Historically, women were not allowed to sing in the Church so the soprano roles were given to young boys and later to castrati—men whose larynges had been fixed in a pre-adolescent state through the process of castration.
The term soprano may also be used to refer to a member of an instrumental family with the highest range such as the soprano saxophone.

Types and roles in opera

In opera, the tessitura, vocal weight, and timbre of soprano voices, and the roles they sing, are commonly categorized into voice types, often called fächer (sg. fach, from German Fach or Stimmfach, "vocal category"). A singer's tessitura is where the voice has the best timbre, easy volume, and most comfort. For instance a soprano and a mezzo-soprano may have a similar range, but their tessituras will lie in different parts of that range.
The low extreme for sopranos is roughly A3 or B♭3 (just below middle C). Within opera, the lowest demanded note for sopranos is G♭3 (from Richard Strauss' Salome (opera)). Often low notes in higher voices will project less, lack timbre, and tend to "count less" in roles (although some Verdi, Strauss and Wagner roles call for stronger singing below the staff). However, rarely is a soprano simply unable to sing a low note in a song within a soprano role.
The high extreme, at a minimum, for non-coloratura sopranos is "soprano C" (C6 two octaves above middle C), and many roles in the standard repertoire call for C♯6 or D6. A couple of roles have optional E♭6’s, as well. In the coloratura repertoire several roles call for E♭6 on up to F6. In rare cases, some coloratura roles go as high as G6 or G♯6, such as Mozart's concert aria "Popoli di Tessaglia", or the title role of Jules Massenet's opera Esclarmonde. While not necessarily within the tessitura, a good soprano will be able to sing her top notes full-throated, with timbre and dynamic control.


The following are the operatic soprano classifications:

Coloratura soprano


Lyric coloratura soprano—A very agile light voice with a high upper extension, capable of fast vocal coloratura. Light coloraturas have a range of approximately middle C (C4) to "high F" (F6) with some coloratura sopranos being able to sing somewhat higher or lower.
Dramatic coloratura soprano—A coloratura soprano with great flexibility in high-lying velocity passages, yet with great sustaining power comparable to that of a full spinto or dramatic soprano. Dramatic coloraturas have a range of approximately "low B" (B3) to "high F" (F6) with some coloratura sopranos being able to sing somewhat higher or lower.

Soubrette


In classical music and opera, the term soubrette refers to both a voice type and a particular type of opera role. A soubrette voice is light with a bright, sweet timbre, a tessitura in the mid-range, and with no extensive coloratura. The soubrette voice is not a weak voice for it must carry over an orchestra without a microphone like all voices in opera. The voice however has a lighter vocal weight than other soprano voices with a brighter timbre. Many young singers start out as soubrettes but as they grow older and the voice matures more physically they may be reclassified as another voice type, usually either a light lyric soprano, a lyric coloratura soprano, or a coloratura mezzo-soprano. Rarely does a singer remain a soubrette throughout her entire career. A soubrette's range extends approximately from middle C (C4) to "high D" (D6). The tessitura of the soubrette tends to lie a bit lower than the lyric soprano and spinto soprano.


Lyric soprano


A warm voice with a bright, full timbre, which can be heard over a big orchestra. It generally has a higher tessitura than a soubrette and usually plays ingenues and other sympathetic characters in opera. Lyric sopranos have a range from approximately below middle C (C4) to "high D" (D6). There is a tendency to divide lyric sopranos into two groups:

Light lyric soprano—A light-lyric soprano has a bigger voice than a soubrette but still possesses a youthful quality.[7]
Full lyric soprano —A full-lyric soprano has a more mature sound than a light-lyric soprano and can be heard over a bigger orchestra.


Spinto soprano


Also lirico-spinto, Italian for "pushed lyric". This voice has the brightness and height of a lyric soprano, but can be "pushed" to dramatic climaxes without strain, and may have a somewhat darker timbre. Spinto sopranos have a range from approximately from B (B3) to "high D" (D6).

Dramatic soprano


A dramatic soprano (or soprano robusto) has a powerful, rich, emotive voice that can sing over a full orchestra. Usually (but not always) this voice has a lower tessitura than other sopranos, and a darker timbre. Dramatic sopranos have a range from approximately from A (A3) to "high C" (C6).
Some dramatic sopranos, known as Wagnerian sopranos, have a very big voice that can assert itself over an exceptionally large orchestra (over eighty pieces). These voices are substantial and very powerful and ideally even throughout the registers.

Intermediate voice types

Two types of soprano especially dear to the French are the Dugazon and the Falcon, which are intermediate voice types between the soprano and the mezzo-soprano: a Dugazon is a darker-colored soubrette, a Falcon a darker-colored soprano drammatico.

 
 
 
Greatest Singers:
 
 
1. Maria CALLAS (Greek-American)

Maria Callas

‘The Queen of La Scala’, ‘La Divina’, ‘The Bible of Opera’ – who else but Maria Callas? The soprano saw herself as two people – Callas the artist, and Callas the woman – but for audiences it was the intoxicating blur of the two that would elevate her from performer to legend. Callas’s repertoire extended from the frothy bel canto of Donizetti to Wagner. Tosca, however, will always be Callas’s greatest role. Her passionate declaration ‘Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore’ (‘I lived for art, I lived for love’) might just as easily have been the singer’s own.



2. Joan SUTHERLAND (Australian)

Joan Sutherland

When Pavarotti calls you ‘the voice of the century’, you know you’re something special. Perhaps the best coloratura soprano of all time, Sutherland was celebrated for her extraordinary range, silvery tone, and for her agility. A chance encounter with ‘a young pianist from Bondi’ changed her life; Richard Bonynge became her husband and musical mentor, steering her away from Wagner and into bel canto repertoire. Famously down to earth, Sutherland nevertheless found her niche in Donizetti and Bellini’s histrionic and highly-strung heroines – Lucia, Norma, Amina – though her own favourite was tomboy Maria in joyous comedy La fille du régiment.
 

3. Victoria DE LOS ANGELES (Spanish)

Victoria de los Ángeles

A soprano with no real interest in the limelight; an innocent playing opera’s scandalous women: Victoria de los Ángeles was opera’s most delightful paradox. After winning a major singing competition, the 24-year-old De los Ángeles received a phone call from La Scala: could she come immediately and audition? She declined; she had promised to go straight home to her parents. It proved no setback, and the soprano made her debut at the Met, Covent Garden and La Scala in a single triumphant season. Puccini, Debussy, Wagner – De los Ángeles sang it all, but was always happiest on the concert platform.
 

4. Leontyne PRICE (American)
 

5. Birgit NILSSON (Swede)



6. Montserrat CABALLÉ (Spanish)

Montserrat Caballé

In April 1965 American mezzo Marilyn Horne pulled out of a performance of Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia at Carnegie Hall. By May her last-minute replacement had become a star. Caballé’s swift success, and a career that saw her perform at New York’s Metropolitan Opera an astonishing 99 times, was driven by her infamously good technique. Capable of enormous feats of breath control and extreme pianissimos, she quickly established herself as a major player in the bel canto revival. Singing all the major Verdi, Donizetti and Bellini heroines, Caballé’s greatest (and most unexpected) hit was her brief foray into pop music – duetting with Freddie Mercury on ‘Barcelona’.



7. Lucia POPP (Austrian)

Lucia Popp

Singing was only Austrian-Slovak soprano Popp’s third career choice, flirting with medicine and theatre before settling on music. Her gilded voice went through a similar metamorphosis, maturing from a student mezzo to a young coloratura soprano (singing perhaps the finest Queen of the Night on record), before developing a weightier, lyric quality suited to Wagner as well as Mozart – eventually Eva from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg would become one of her most successful roles. Girlishly pretty and good tempered, Popp was anything but a classic diva, and this same sweetness pervades her many recordings, which include lieder as well as the classic operatic roles.
 

8. Margaret PRICE (Welsh)

9. Kirsten FLAGSTAD (Norwegian)

10. Emma KIRKBY (English)

11. Elisabeth SCHWARZKOPF (Austrian/British)

12. Régine CRESPIN (French)

13. Galina VISHNEVSKAYA (Russian)


14. Gundula JANOWITZ (German)

Gundula Janowitz

A protégée of Herbert von Karajan, Gundula Janowitz might yet take the crown as the finest Mozart soprano of all time. Her lyric voice had an unusual purity, and a clarity that compensated for any weaknesses of projection, allowing her to sing Wagner’s Sieglinde and Elsa as well as the lighter roles of Pamina and Marzelline. Recordings of The Magic Flute with Klemperer and Strauss’s Four Last Songs with Karajan remain her highlights, though she is perhaps best known as one half of the duet, with Edith Mathis, from The Marriage of Figaro that causes such a stir in The Shawshank Redemption.
 

15. Karita MATTILA (Finnish)

16. Elisabeth SCHUMANN (German)

17. Renata TEBALDI (Italian)

18. Rosa PONSELLE (Italian-American)

19. Elly AMELING (Dutch)

 

20. Kiri Te Kanawa

A voice of unusual warmth and mellowness set New Zealand soprano Kiri Te Kanawa apart. Sir Colin Davis remembers an early audition: ‘I couldn't believe my ears, it was such a fantastically beautiful voice.’ It was a voice made for noble, sensuous roles – Strauss’s Marschallin, Elisabeth de Valois, Anna Bolena. Her big break came as Countess Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro at Covent Garden, but more dramatic was her Met debut – stepping in to sing her first Desdemona at three hours’ notice. Offstage, Kanawa made headlines with her rendition of ‘Let the Bright Seraphim’ at Charles and Diana’s wedding.


21. Renée Fleming

'In my long life, I have met maybe two sopranos with this quality of singing.' But who were Sir Georg Solti’s star sopranos? Renata Tebaldi and Renée Fleming. Winning the Metropolitan Opera Auditions was a major turning point for Fleming; she was booked to sing the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro at Houston Grand Opera, making a spectacular debut. Since then this rich, lyric soprano, the Met’s go-to diva, has roamed widely across traditional boundaries of repertoire, singing Strauss, Verdi and Mozart, as well as contemporary music. Fleming has also appeared on Sesame Street (singing Rigoletto).



22. Jessye Norman

With a personality to match her powerful voice, Jessye Norman is a fixture among opera’s legends. The African-American soprano couples sheer power with a richness and depth of tone that was made for Wagner’s heroines – Isolde, Elisabeth, Kundry, Sieglinde – Strauss’s songs, as well as Purcell’s Dido and Gluck’s Alceste. Norman was also the first singer to appear at the Met in a single-character production – Schoenberg’s Erwartung. Sadly Norman’s musicality and career (launched with a win at the Munich Competition in 1968) have latterly been eclipsed by a long-running libel case – a sad postscript to the career of a monumental artist.


23.
Anna Netrebko

In 2007 Anna Netrebko became the first soprano to feature in Time magazine’s Time 100 list. Her story is a musical fairy tale, from cleaning floors at the Mariinsky Theatre to making her debut at just 22. Her breakthrough Donna Anna at the Salzburg Festival in 2002 led to engagements at La Scala, Covent Garden and Carnegie Hall. Netrebko’s gilded, lyric soprano, good looks and acting abilities make her a natural fit for opera’s great heroines – Mimì, Violetta, Juliette. This year she made history as the first soprano ever to headline three consecutive Metropolitan Opera opening-night galas – Anna Bolena, L’elisir d’amore, and 2013’s Eugene Onegin.

 
 
 

Netrebko as Leonora in Alvis Hermanis's production of Il trovatore at the Salzburg Festival 2014
 
 
 
 
Mezzo-soprano
 
A mezzo-soprano or mezzo (English pronunciation: /ˈmɛtsoʊ/, /ˈmɛzoʊ/; Italian: [ˈmɛdzo] meaning "half soprano") is a type of classical female singing voice whose vocal range lies between the soprano and the contralto voice types. The mezzo-soprano's vocal range usually extends from the A below middle C to the A two octaves above (i.e. A3–A5 in scientific pitch notation, where middle C = C4). In the lower and upper extremes, some mezzo-sopranos may extend down to the F below middle C (F3) and as high as "high C" (C6).

Mezzo-sopranos generally have a heavier, darker tone than sopranos. The mezzo-soprano voice resonates in a higher range than that of a contralto. The terms Dugazon and Galli-Marié are sometimes used to refer to light mezzo-sopranos, after the names of famous singers. A castrato with a vocal range equivalent to a mezzo-soprano's range is referred to as a mezzo-soprano castrato or mezzista. Today, however, only women should be referred to as mezzo-sopranos; men singing within the female range are called countertenors. In current operatic practice, female singers with very low tessituras are often included among mezzo-sopranos, because singers in both ranges are able to cover the other, and true operatic contraltos are very rare.

While mezzo-sopranos typically sing secondary roles in operas, notable exceptions include the title role in Bizet's Carmen, Angelina (Cinderella) in Rossini's La Cenerentola, and Rosina in Rossini's Barber of Seville (all of which are also sung by sopranos). Many 19th-century French-language operas give the leading female role to mezzos, including Béatrice et Bénédict, La damnation de Faust, Don Quichotte, La favorite, Mignon, Samson et Dalila, Les Troyens, and Werther, as well as Carmen.

Typical roles for mezzo-sopranos include the stereotypical triad associated with contraltos of "witches, bitches, and britches": witches, nurses, and wise women, such as Azucena in Verdi's Il trovatore; villains and seductresses such as Amneris in Verdi's Aida; and "breeches roles" (male characters played by female singers) such as Cherubino in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. Mezzo-sopranos are well represented in baroque music, early music, and baroque opera. Some roles designated for lighter soubrette sopranos are sung by mezzo sopranos, who often provide a fuller, more dramatic quality. Such roles include Despina in Mozart's Così fan tutte and Zerlina in his Don Giovanni. Mezzos sometimes play dramatic soprano roles such as Santuzza in Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana, Lady Macbeth in Verdi's Macbeth, and Kundry in Wagner's Parsifal.
 
 
Coloratura mezzo-soprano

A coloratura mezzo-soprano has a warm lower register and an agile high register. The roles they sing often demand not only the use of the lower register but also leaps into the upper tessitura with highly ornamented, rapid passages. They have a range from approximately the G below middle C (G3) to the B two octaves above middle C (B5). Some coloratura mezzo-sopranos can sing up to high C (C6) or high D (D6), but this is very rare. What distinguishes these voices from being called sopranos is their extension into the lower register and warmer vocal quality. Although coloratura mezzo-sopranos have impressive and at times thrilling high notes, they are most comfortable singing in the middle of their range, rather than the top.
Many of the hero roles in the operas of Handel and Monteverdi, originally sung by male castrati, can be successfully sung today by coloratura mezzo-sopranos. Rossini demanded similar qualities for his comic heroines, and Vivaldi wrote roles frequently for this voice as well. Coloratura mezzo-sopranos also often sing lyric-mezzo soprano roles or soubrette roles.

Coloratura mezzo-soprano roles in opera and operettas


Angelina (Cenerentola), La Cenerentola (Rossini)*
Ariodante, Ariodante (Handel)*
Baba the Turk, The Rake's Progress (Stravinsky)
Griselda, Griselda (Vivaldi)*
Isabella, L'italiana in Algeri (Rossini)*
Isolier, Le comte Ory (Rossini)*
Julius Caesar, Giulio Cesare (Handel)*
Orsini, Lucrezia Borgia (Donizetti)
Ruggiero, Alcina (Handel)*
Rosina, The Barber of Seville (Rossini)*
Serse, Serse (Handel)*
Tancredi, Tancredi (Rossini)*


Coloratura mezzo-soprano singers


Notable coloratura mezzo-sopranos include:

Cecilia Bartoli
Teresa Berganza
Sarah Connolly
Joyce DiDonato
Marilyn Horne
Jennifer Larmore
Raquel Pierotti



Lyric mezzo-soprano

The lyric mezzo-soprano has a range from approximately the G below middle C (G3) to the B two octaves above middle C (B5). This voice has a very smooth, sensitive and at times lachrymose quality. Lyric mezzo-sopranos do not have the vocal agility of the coloratura mezzo-soprano or the size of the dramatic mezzo-soprano. The lyric mezzo-soprano is ideal for most trouser roles.

 
 
Lyric mezzo-soprano roles in opera and operettas

Annio, La clemenza di Tito (Mozart)
Carmen, Carmen (Bizet)*
Charlotte, Werther (Massenet)*
Cherubino, The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart)
The Composer, Ariadne auf Naxos (Richard Strauss)
Dido, Dido and Aeneas (Purcell)*
Donna Elvira, Don Giovanni (Mozart)
Dorabella, Così fan tutte (Mozart)*
Hänsel, Hansel and Gretel (Humperdinck)*
Idamante, Idomeneo, re di Creta (Mozart)
Marguerite, La damnation de Faust (Berlioz)*
Mignon, Mignon (Ambroise Thomas)*
Mother, Amahl and the Night Visitors (Menotti)*
Nicklausse, Les contes d'Hoffmann (Offenbach)
Octavian, Der Rosenkavalier (Richard Strauss)*
Orlofsky, (Die Fledermaus) (Johann Strauss)
Sesto, La clemenza di Tito (Mozart)*
Sesto, Giulio Cesare (Handel)
Siebel, Faust (Gounod)
Sorceress, Dido and Aeneas (Purcell)
Stephano, Roméo et Juliette (Charles Gounod)
Suzuki, Madama Butterfly (Puccini)



Lyric mezzo-soprano singers

Notable lyric mezzo-sopranos include:

Janet Baker
Agnes Baltsa
Elīna Garanča
Katherine Ciesinski
Michelle DeYoung
Brigitte Fassbaender
Susan Graham
Magdalena Kožená
Lorraine Hunt Lieberson
Nan Merriman
Anne Sofie von Otter
Frederica von Stade
Risë Stevens
Tatiana Troyanos




Dramatic mezzo-soprano

A dramatic mezzo-soprano has a strong medium register, a warm high register and a voice that is broader and more powerful than the lyric and coloratura mezzo-sopranos. This voice has less vocal facility than the coloratura mezzo-soprano. The range of the dramatic mezzo-soprano is from approximately the F below middle C to the G two octaves above middle C. The dramatic mezzo-soprano can sing over an orchestra and chorus with ease and was often used in the 19th century opera, to portray older women, mothers, witches and evil characters. Verdi wrote many roles for this voice in the Italian repertoire and there are also a few good roles in the French Literature. The majority of these roles, however, are within the German Romantic repertoire of composers like Wagner and Richard Strauss. Like coloratura mezzos, dramatic mezzos are also often cast in lyric mezzo-soprano roles.


Dramatic mezzo-soprano roles in opera and operettas

Azucena, Il trovatore (Verdi)*
Amneris, Aida (Verdi)*
Adelaide, Arabella (Richard Strauss)
Brangäne, Tristan und Isolde (Wagner)
The Gingerbread Witch, Hansel and Gretel (Humperdinck)
The Countess, The Queen of Spades (Tchaikovsky)
Dalila, Samson and Delilah (Saint-Saëns)*
Dido, Les Troyens (Berlioz)*
Eboli, Don Carlos (Verdi)
Herodias, Salome (Richard Strauss)
Judith, Bluebeard's Castle (Bartók)*
Klytämnestra, Elektra (Richard Strauss)
Laura, La Gioconda (Ponchielli)
Marina, Boris Godunov (Mussorgsky)
Gertrude (Mother), Hansel and Gretel (Humperdinck)
Ortrud, Lohengrin (Wagner)
Princess de Bouillon, Adriana Lecouvreur (Cilea)

Dramatic mezzo-soprano singers

Notable dramatic mezzo-sopranos include:

Kate Aldrich
Graciela Araya
Irina Arkhipova
Fedora Barbieri
Stephanie Blythe
Olga Borodina
Grace Bumbry
Viorica Cortez
Fiorenza Cossotto
Mignon Dunn
Maria Gay
Rita Gorr
Denyce Graves
Hermine Haselböck
Christa Ludwig
Waltraud Meier
Elena Obraztsova
Regina Resnik
Giulietta Simionato
Ebe Stignani
Blanche Thebom
Josephine Veasey
Dolora Zajick

 
 
 
 
Contralto
 
A contralto is a type of classical female singing voice whose vocal range is the lowest female voice type, with the lowest tessitura. The contralto's vocal range falls between tenor and mezzo-soprano; typically between the F below middle C (F3 in scientific pitch notation) to the second G above middle C (G5), although at the extremes some voices can reach the E below middle C (E3) or the second B♭ above middle C (B♭5).
 
 
Terminology

"Contralto" is meaningful only in reference to classical and operatic singing, as other genres lack a system of vocal categorization comparable to that generally accepted in the classical context. Even within current operatic practice, contraltos are often classed as mezzo-sopranos, because singers in each range can cover for those in the other. When appearing separately, the term "contralto" applies only to female singers; men whose voices fall in the same range or higher are known as "countertenors." The Italian terms "contralto" and "alto" are not synonymous, the latter technically denoting a specific vocal range in choral singing without regard to factors like tessitura, vocal timbre, vocal facility, and vocal weight.
Within the category of contraltos are three generally recognized subcategories—coloratura contralto, lyric contralto, and dramatic contralto—that usefully describe the voice type in general terms. Note, however, that they do not always apply with precision to individual singers; some exceptional dramatic contraltos, such as Ernestine Schumann-Heink and Sigrid Onégin, were technically equipped to perform not only heavy, dramatic music by the likes of Wagner but also florid compositions by Donizetti.

Coloratura contralto


Coloratura contraltos—who have light, agile voices ranging very high for the classification and atypically extensive coloratura and high sustaining notes—specialize in florid passages and leaps. Given its deviations from the classification's norms, this voice type is quite rare.

Lyric contralto

A lyric contralto voice is lighter than a dramatic contralto but not capable of the ornamentation and leaps of a coloratura contralto. This class of contralto, lighter in timbre than the others, is the most common today and usually ranges from the E below middle C (E3) to the second G above middle C (G5).

Dramatic contralto


The dramatic contralto is the deepest, darkest, and heaviest contralto voice, usually having a heavier tone and more power than the others. Singers in this class, like the coloratura contraltos, are rare. They typically sing in a range from the G below middle C (G3) to the second A above middle C (A 5).

Contralto roles in opera

True operatic contraltos are rare, and the operatic literature contains few roles written specifically for them. Contraltos sometimes are assigned feminine roles like Angelina in La Cenerentola, Rosina in The Barber of Seville, Isabella in L'italiana in Algeri, and Olga in Eugene Onegin, but more frequently they play female villains or assume trouser roles originally written for castrati. A common saying among contraltos is that they may play only "witches, bitches, or britches."

Examples of contralto roles in the standard operatic repertoire include the following:

Angelina*, La Cenerentola (Rossini)
Art Banker, Facing Goya (Michael Nyman)
Auntie*, landlady of The Boar, Peter Grimes (Britten)
Azucena*, Il trovatore (Verdi)
The Baroness, Vanessa (Barber)
La Cieca, La Gioconda (Ponchielli)
Cornelia Giulio Cesare (Handel)
The Countess*, The Queen of Spades (Tchaikovsky)
Didone, Egisto (Cavalli)
Erda, Das Rheingold, Siegfried (Wagner)
Madame Flora, The Medium (Gian Carlo Menotti)
Fides, Le prophète (Giacomo Meyerbeer)
Florence, Albert Herring (Britten)
Isabella*, L'italiana in Algeri (Rossini)
Katisha, The Mikado (Gilbert and Sullivan)
Klytemnestra*, Elektra (Strauss)
Lel, The Snow Maiden (Rimsky-Korsakov)
Little Buttercup, H.M.S. Pinafore (Gilbert and Sullivan)
Lucretia, The Rape of Lucretia (Britten)
Maddalena*, Rigoletto (Verdi)
Magdelone, Maskarade (Nielsen)
Mama Lucia, Cavalleria rusticana (Mascagni)
Malcolm*, La donna del lago (Rossini)
Margret, Wozzeck (Berg)
Maria, Porgy and Bess (Gershwin)
The Marquise of Birkenfeld, La fille du régiment (Donizetti)
Marthe, Faust (Gounoud)
Mary, Der fliegende Holländer (Wagner)
Mother, The Consul (Menotti)
Mother Goose, The Rake's Progress (Stravinsky)
Mrs Quickly, Falstaff (Verdi)
Norn (I), Götterdämmerung (Wagner)
Olga*, Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky)
Orfeo, Orfeo ed Euridice (Gluck)
Orsini, Lucrezia Borgia (Donizetti)
Pauline, The Queen of Spades (Tchaikovsky)
La Principessa, Suor Angelica (Puccini)
Rosina*, The Barber of Seville (Rossini)
Rosmira/Eurimene*, Partenope (Handel)
Ruth, The Pirates of Penzance (Gilbert and Sullivan)
Smeaton, Anna Bolena (Donizetti)
Sosostris, The Midsummer Marriage (Tippett)
Stella, What Next? (Carter)
Tancredi, Tancredi (Rossini)
Ulrica, Un ballo in maschera (Verdi)
Widow Begbick*, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (Kurt Weill)
3rd Woodsprite, Rusalka (Dvořák)

 
 
 
 
Eunice Alberts (1927-2012)
Marietta Alboni (1826–1894)
Marian Anderson (1897–1993)
Fanny Anitùa (1887–1969)
Cecil Arden (1894–1989)
Eula Beal (1919–2008)
Marianne Brandt (1842–1921)
Karin Branzell (1891–1974)
Muriel Brunskill (1899–1980)
Clara Butt (1872–1936)
Lili Chookasian (1921-2012)
Belle Cole (1845–1905)
Kate Condon (1877–1941)
Clorinda Corradi (1804–1877)
Kathleen Ferrier (1912–1953)
Maureen Forrester (1930–2010)
Louise Homer (1871–1947)
Gisela Litz (born 1922)
Louise Kirkby Lunn (1873–1930)

Marie-Nicole Lemieux (born 1975)
Anna Larsson (born 1966)
Delphine Galou (born 1977)



Adelaide Malanotte (1785–1832)
Bernadette Manca di Nissa (born 1954)
Marietta Marcolini (c. 1780 – date of death unknown)
Margaret Matzenauer (1881–1963), who sang mostly mezzo-soprano roles though
Antonia Merighi (died 1764)

Sara Mingardo (born 1961)
Sigrid Onégin (1889–1943)
Rosmunda Pisaroni (1793–1872)
Ewa Podleś (born 1952)
Marie Powers (1902–1973)

Sonia Prina (born 1975)
Geltrude Righetti (1793–1862)
Anastasia Robinson (c. 1692–1755)
Sofia Scalchi (1850–1922)

Ernestine Schumann-Heink (1861–1936)
Annice Sidwells (1902–2001)
Monica Sinclair (1925–2002)

Nathalie Stutzmann (born 1965)
Hilary Summers
Vittoria Tesi (1700–1775)
Kerstin Thorborg (1896–1970)
Claramae Turner (born 1920)
Francesca Vanini-Boschi (date of birth unknown – 1744)
Lucia Elizabeth Vestris (1797–1856)
Helen Watts (1927–2009)
Marta Wittkowska (1882–1977)
 
 
 
 
Greatest Female Opera Singers
 
 
Maria Callas

Joan Sutherland

Tarja Turunen

Renee Fleming

Leontyne Price

Dame Kiri te Kanawa

Montserrat Caballé

Kirsten Flagstad

Sarah Brightman

Jackie Evancho

Anna Tomowa-Sintow

Laura Tatulescu

Mirusia Louwerse

Carmen Monarcha

Kathleen Battle

Birgit Nilsson

Marilyn Horne

Jessye Norman

Angela Gheorghiu

Elina Garanca

Anna Netrebko

Renata Tebaldi
 
 
Sissel Kyrkebo

Sumi Jo

Malena Ernman

Ann Sofie von Otter

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf

Frederica von Stade

Amelita Galli-Curci

Rosa Ponselle

Agnes Baltsa

Diana Damrau

Ghena Dimitrova

Aria Tesolin

Raina Kabaivanska

Montserrat Marti

Beverly Sills

Mirella Freno

Victoria de los Angeles

Soile Isokoski
 
 
Jenny Lind

Karita Mattila

Janet Baker

Maria Kesselman

Lori Lewis

Tsakane Valentine Maswanganyi

Dawn Upshaw

Roberta Peters

Olga Peretyatko

Sena Jurinac

Elisabeth Schumann

Lily Pons

Adelina Patti

Malin Hartelius

Aubrey Ashburn

Ileana Cotrubas

Tatiana Troyanos

Grace Bermingham

Grace Bumbry

Joan Hammond
 
 
June Anderson

Nina Rautio

Mojca Erdmann

Elena Mosuc

Ermonela Jaho

Bidu Sayao

Jenna Dearness-Dark

Lyne Fortin

Miliza Korjus

Mimi Coertse

Elizabeth Futral

Rita Streich

Margaret Price

Patricia Racette

Sylvia Sass

Emma Matthews

Ruxandra Donose

Astrid Varnay

Marie-Josée Lord
 
 
 
 
Greatest Male Tenors
 
Jonathan Antoine

Luciano Pavarotti

Placido Domingo

Enrico Caruso

Andrea Bocelli

Piero Barone

Mario Lanza

Alfie Boe

José Carreras

Ignazio Boschetto

Rolando Villazon

Josh Groban

Jussi Björling

Franco Corelli

Sean Panikkar

Nicola Gedda

Fritz Wunderlich

Russell Watson

Josh Page

Fernando Varela

David Phelps

David Miller

Mario Frangoulis

Gianluca Ginoble

Joseph Calleja

Jonas Kaufmann

Colm Wilkinson

Beniamino Gigli

José Diego Floréz

Mario Del Monaco

Jon Vickers

Remigio Pereira

Stuart Burrows

Carlos Marin

Richard Tauber

Lauritz Melchior

Urs Buehler

Alfredo Kraus

Choi Sung-bong

Joshua Dennis

Richard Tucker

Gari Glaysher

Lawrence Brownlee

Alessandro Safina

Jonathan Ansell

Giuseppe Di Stefano

Nino Bravo

Volker Bengel

Aureliano Pertile

Sergei Lemeshev

Roberto Alagna

Victor Micallef

John McCormack

Antonio Paoli

Bruno Mars

Matti Salminen

Ramon Vargas

Sebastien Izambard

Chris Mann

Jan Kiepura

Carlo Bergonzi

Harry Secombe

Bryan Hymel

Ferruccio Tagliavini

Mirko Provini

Giacomo (Jaume) Aragall

Christopher Dallo

Joseph Schmidt

Saimir Pirgu

Peter Dvorsky

Alejandro Granda Relayza

Mario Filippeschi

Jan Peerce

Vincenzo La Scola

Steve Green

Clifton Murray

Fraser Walters

Rouvaun

Ronan Tynan

Myles Kennedy

Fernamdo de la Mora

Sabino Gaita

Glenn Yarbrough

Mark Vincent

Ermanno Balducci

Elvis Presley

Michael Crawford

Charles Castronovo

Freddie Mercury


Emilio S. Belaval

Virgilijus Noreika

Luigi Infantino

Luke Kennedy

Luigi Alva

Matthew Polenzani

Arthur Jordan

 
 
 
 
Female Opera Singer of Today

Diana Damrau
Angela Gheorghiu
Joyce Didonato
Elina Garanca
Anna Netrebko
Renée Fleming
Nathalie Stutzmann
Stephanie Blythe
Olga Borodina
Dolora Zajick
Tuva Semmingsen
Soile Isokoski
Natalie Dessay
Susan Graham
Mariella Devia
Marilyn Horne
Jessye Norman
Cecilia Bartoli
Sarah Connolly
Fiorenza Cedolins
Annette Dasch
Anja Harteros
Magdalena Kožená
Aleksandra Kurzak
Waltraud Meier
Patricia Racette
Sondra Radvanovsky
Dorothea Röschmann
Rinat Shaham
Nina Stemme
Anne Sofie von Otter
Barbara Bonney
Yulia van Doren
Dawn Upshaw
Elina Garanca
Kathleen Battle
 
 
 
Opera stars today

Jonas Kaufmann -
Bryn Terfel
Placido Domingo
Roberto Alagna
John Tomlinson
Renée Fleming
Sarah Connolly
Deborah Voight
Angela Gheorghiu
Anna Netrebko
Natalie Dessay
Cecilia Bartoli
Elina Garanca
Joyce DiDonato
Juan Diego Flórez
Simon Keenlyside
René Pape



 
 
 
 – Roberto Alagna, French tenor

– Marcelo Álvarez, Argentine lyric tenor

– Lawrence Brownlee, American tenor

– Joseph Calleja, Maltese tenor

– Carlo Colombara, Italian bass

– Plácido Domingo, Spanish tenor and conductor

– Gerald Finley, Canadian bass-baritone

– Juan Diego Flórez, Peruvian tenor

– Ferruccio Furlanetto, Italian bass

– Vittorio Grigolo, Italian tenor

– Thomas Hampson, American baritone

– Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Russian baritone

– Jonas Kaufmann, German spinto tenor

– Simon Keenlyside, British baritone

– Mariusz Kwiecień, Polish baritone

– James Morris, American bass-baritone

– René Pape, German bass

-Ruggero Raimondi, the Italian bass-baritone

– Erwin Schrott, Uruguayan bass-baritone

– Stuart Skelton, Australian heldentenor

– Bryn Terfel, Welsh, bass-baritone

– John Tomlinson, English bass

– Ramón Vargas, Mexican tenor

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Countertenor
 
 
A countertenor is a type of classical male singing voice whose vocal range is equivalent to that of the female contralto and mezzo-soprano voice types.
The term first came into use in England during the mid 17th century, and was in wide use by the late 17th century. However, the use of adult male falsettos in polyphony, commonly in the alto range, was common in all-male sacred choirs for some decades previous, as early as the mid-16th century, and modern-day ensembles such as the Tallis Scholars and The Sixteen maintain the use of male altos in period works. During the Romantic period, the popularity of the countertenor voice waned and few compositions were written with that voice type in mind.
In the second half of the 20th century, the countertenor voice went through a massive resurgence in popularity, partly due to pioneers such as Alfred Deller, by the increased popularity of Baroque opera and the need of male singers to replace the castrati roles in such works. Although the voice has been considered largely an early music phenomenon, there is a growing modern repertoire.


The countertenor in history

In polyphonic compositions of the 14th and early 15th centuries, the contratenor was a voice part added to the basic two-part contrapuntal texture of discant (superius) and tenor (from the Latin tenere which means to hold, since this part "held" the music's melody, while the superius descanted upon it at a higher pitch). Though having approximately the same range as the tenor, it was generally of a much less melodic nature than either of these other two parts. With the introduction in about 1450 of four-part writing by composers like Ockeghem and Obrecht, the contratenor split into contratenor altus and contratenor bassus, which were respectively above and below the tenor. Later the term became obsolete: in Italy, contratenor altus became simply altus, in France, haute-contre, and in England, countertenor. Though originally these words were used to designate a vocal part, they are now used to describe singers of that part, whose vocal techniques may differ.
In the Catholic Church during the Renaissance, St Paul's admonition "mulieres in ecclesiis taceant" ("let the women keep silence in the churches" – I Corinthians 14:34) still prevailed, and so women were banned from singing in church services. Countertenors, though rarely described as such, therefore found a prominent part in liturgical music, whether singing a line alone or with boy trebles or altos; (in Spain there was a long tradition of male falsettists singing soprano lines). However, employment of countertenors never extended to early opera, the rise of which coincided with the arrival of a fashion for castrati, who took, for example, several roles in the first performance of Monteverdi's Orfeo (1607). Castrati were already prominent by this date in Italian church choirs, replacing both falsettists and trebles; the last soprano falsettist singing in Rome, Juan [Johannes de] San[c]tos (a Spaniard), died in 1652. In Italian opera, by the late seventeenth century, castrati predominated, while in France, the modal high tenor, called the haute-contre,[5] was established as the voice of choice for leading male roles. In England Purcell wrote significant music for a higher male voice that he called a "counter-tenor", for example, the roles of Secrecy and Summer in The Fairy Queen (1692). "These lines have often challenged modern singers, who have been unsure whether they are high tenor parts or are meant for falsettists". In Purcell's choral music the situation is further complicated by the occasional appearance of more than one solo part designated "countertenor", but with a considerable difference in range and tessitura. Such is the case in Hail, bright Cecilia (The Ode on St Cecilia's Day 1692) in which the solo "'Tis Nature's Voice" has the range F3 to B♭4 (similar to those stage roles cited previously), whereas, in the duet "Hark each tree" the countertenor soloist sings from E4 to D5 (in the trio "With that sublime celestial lay". Later in the same work, Purcell's own manuscript designates the same singer, Mr Howel, described as "a High Contra tenor" to perform in the range G3 to C4; it is very likely that he took some of the lowest notes in a well-blended "chest voice" – see below).
"The Purcell counter-tenor 'tenor' did not flourish in England much beyond the early years of the [eighteenth] century; within twenty years of Purcell's death Handel had settled in London and opera seria, which was underpinned entirely by Italian singing, soon became entrenched in British theatres".[6] In parallel, by Handel's time, castrati had come to dominate the English operatic stage as much as that of Italy (and indeed most of Europe outside France). They also took part in several of Handel's oratorios, though countertenors, too, occasionally featured as soloists in the latter, the parts written for them being closer in compass to the higher ones of Purcell, with a usual range of A3 to E5.[2] They also sang the alto parts in Handel's choruses, and it was as choral singers within the Anglican church tradition (as well as in the secular genre of the glee) that countertenors survived throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Otherwise they largely faded from public notice.


The modern countertenor

The most visible icon of the countertenor revival in the twentieth century was Alfred Deller, an English singer and champion of authentic early music performance. Deller initially called himself an "alto", but his collaborator Michael Tippett recommended the archaic term "countertenor" to describe his voice. In the 1950s and 60s, his group, the Deller Consort, was important in increasing audiences' awareness (and appreciation) of Renaissance and Baroque music. Deller was the first modern countertenor to achieve fame, and has had many prominent successors. Benjamin Britten wrote the leading role of Oberon in his setting of A Midsummer Night's Dream (1960) especially for him; the countertenor role of Apollo in Britten's Death in Venice (1973) was created by James Bowman, the best-known amongst the next generation of English countertenors. Russell Oberlin was Deller's American counterpart, and another early music pioneer. Oberlin's success was entirely unprecedented in a country that had seen little exposure to anything before Bach, and it paved the way for the recent great success of countertenors there also.
Today, countertenors are much in demand in many forms of classical music. In opera, many roles originally written for castrati are now sung and recorded by countertenors, as are some trouser roles originally written for female singers. The former category is much more numerous, and includes Orfeo in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice and many Handel roles, such as the name parts in Giulio Cesare and Orlando, and Bertarido in Rodelinda. This is also the case in several of Mozart's early operas, including Amintas in Il Re Pastore and Cecilio in Lucio Silla. Many modern composers other than Britten have written, and continue to write, countertenor parts, both in choral works and opera, as well as songs and song-cycles for the voice. Men's choral groups such as Chanticleer and the King's Singers employ the voice to great effect in a variety of genres, including early music, gospel, and even folk songs. Other recent operatic parts written for the countertenor voice include Edgar in Aribert Reimann's Lear (1978), the title role in Philip Glass's Akhnaten (1983), Claire in John Lunn's The Maids (1998), the Refugee in Jonathan Dove's Flight (1998), and Trinculo in Thomas Adès's The Tempest (2004). In 2013 the Romanian countertenor Cezar Ouatu participated with his song "It's my life" in the Eurovision Song Contest.


The countertenor voice

A trained countertenor will typically have a vocal center similar in placement to that of a contralto or mezzo-soprano.[8] Peter Giles, a professional countertenor and noted author on the subject, defines the countertenor as a musical part rather than as a vocal style or mechanism. In modern usage, the term "countertenor" is essentially equivalent to the medieval term contratenor altus (see above). In this way, a countertenor singer can be operationally defined as a man who sings the countertenor part, whatever vocal style or mechanism is employed. The countertenor range is generally equivalent to an alto range, extending from approximately G3 (g) to D5 (d″) or E5 (e″). In actual practice, it is generally acknowledged that a majority of countertenors sing with a falsetto vocal production for at least the upper half of this range, although most use some form of "chest voice" (akin to the range of their speaking voice) for the lower notes. The most difficult challenge for such a singer is managing the lower middle range, for there are normally a few notes (around B♭3) that can be sung with either vocal mechanism, and the transition between registers must somehow be blended or smoothly managed.
In response to the (in his view) pejorative connotation of the term falsetto, Giles refuses to use it, calling the upper register "head voice." Many voice experts would disagree with this choice of terminology, reserving the designation "head voice" for the high damped register accompanied by a relatively low larynx that is typical of modern high operatic tenor voice production. The latter type of head voice is, in terms of the vocal cord vibration, actually more similar to "chest voice" than to falsetto, since it uses the same "speaking voice" production (referred to as "modal" by voice scientists), and this is reflected in the timbre.


Controversy over the terms male soprano, male alto, and countertenor

Particularly in the British choral tradition, the terms male soprano and male alto serve to identify men who rely on falsetto vocal production, rather than the modal voice, to sing in the soprano or alto vocal range. Elsewhere, the terms have less universal currency. Some authorities do accept them as descriptive of male falsettists, although this view is subject to controversy;[ they would reserve the term "countertenor" for men who, like Russell Oberlin, achieve a soprano range voice with little or no falsetto, equating it with haute-contre and the Italian tenor altino. Adherents to this view maintain that a countertenor will have unusually short vocal cords and consequently a higher speaking voice and lower range and tessitura than their falsettist counterparts, perhaps from D3 to D5. Operatic vocal classification, on the other hand, prefers the terms "countertenor" and "sopranist" to "male soprano" and "male alto," and some scholars consider the latter two terms inaccurate owing to physiological differences between male and female vocal production. The sole known man who can claim to be a true male soprano by that definition is Michael Maniaci, whose modal voice falls in the soprano range, like a woman's, because his larynx never fully developed during puberty.

 
 
 
 
Tenor
 
 
A tenor is a type of classical male singing voice whose vocal range is one of the highest of the male voice types. The tenor's vocal range (in choral music) lies between C3, the C one octave below middle C, and (A4), the A above middle C. In solo work, this range extends up to (C5), or "tenor high C". The low extreme for tenors is roughly A♭2 (two A♭s below middle C). At the highest extreme, some tenors can sing up to two Fs above middle C (F5).
The term tenor is also applied to instruments, such as the tenor saxophone, to indicate their range in relation to other instruments of the same group.
Within opera, the lowest note in the standard tenor repertoire is A2 (Mime, Herod), but few roles fall below C3. The high extreme: a few tenor roles in the standard repertoire call for a "tenor C" (C5, one octave above middle C). Some (if not all) of the few top Cs in the standard operatic repertoire are either optional (such as in "Che gelida manina" in Puccini's La bohème) or interpolated (added) by tradition (such as in "Di quella pira" from Verdi's Il trovatore). However, the highest demanded note in the standard tenor operatic repertoire is D5 ("Mes amis, écoutez l'histoire", from Adolph Adams' Le postillon de Lonjumeau). Some operatic roles for tenors require a darker timbre and fewer high notes. In the leggero repertoire the highest note is F5 (Arturo in "Credeasi, misera" from Bellini's I puritani), therefore, very few tenors can, given the raising of concert pitch since its composition, have this role in their repertoire without transposition.
Within musical theatre, most tenor roles are written between B♭2 and A4, especially the romantic leads, although some fall as low as A♭2 and others as high as F5.
 
 
Origin of the term

The name "tenor" derives from the Latin word tenere, which means "to hold". In medieval and Renaissance polyphony between about 1250 and 1500,[citation needed] the tenor was the structurally fundamental (or 'holding') voice, vocal or instrumental. All other voices were normally calculated in relation to the tenor, which often proceeded in longer note values and carried a borrowed Cantus firmus melody. Until the late 16th century introduction of the contratenor singers, the tenor was usually the highest voice, assuming the role of providing a l foundation. It was also in the 18th century that "tenor" came to signify the male voice that sang such parts. Thus, for earlier repertoire, a line marked 'tenor' indicated the part's role, and not the required voice type. Indeed, even as late as the eighteenth century, partbooks labelled 'tenor' might contain parts for a range of voice types.



Tenor in choral music

In four-part mixed-sex choral music, the tenor is the second lowest voice, above the bass and below the soprano and alto. In men's choral music, the tenor is the highest voice. While certain choral music does require the first tenors to ascend the full tenor range, the majority of choral music places the tenors in the range from approximately B2 up to A4. The requirements of the tenor voice in choral music are also tied to the style of music most often performed by a given choir. Orchestra choruses require tenors with fully resonant voices, but chamber or a cappella choral music (sung with no instrumental accompaniment) can rely on light baritones singing in falsetto.

Even so, one nearly ubiquitous facet of choral singing is the shortage of tenor voices. Most men tend to have baritone voices and for this reason the majority of men tend to prefer singing in the bass section of a choir (however, true basses are even rarer than tenors). Some men are asked to sing tenor even if they lack the full range, and sometimes low altos are asked to sing the tenor part. The late 19th century saw the emergence of male choirs or TTBB (Tenor1, Tenor2, Bass1, Bass2). In the US these are sometimes called Glee Clubs. The Welsh choirs are examples of this type of choir. Male choirs sing specially written music for male choirs, music adapted from mixed sex choirs and in most genres including classical, sacred, popular and show. Male choirs differ from Barbershop choirs in that they are usually accompanied, often by but not restricted to a piano. Male choirs are often larger than the Barbershop style partly because the foundation of the Barbershop style is the solo quartet sound. In male choirs, tenors will often sing both in chest tone and falsetto. As a result, a male choir has a wider pitch range than one consisting only of females, sometimes stretching from the countertenor or male soprano voice type in the high extreme to basso profundo in the low extreme.


Other uses

There are four parts in Barbershop harmony: bass, baritone, lead, and tenor (lowest to highest), with "tenor" referring to the highest part. The tenor generally sings in falsetto voice, corresponding roughly to the countertenor in classical music, and harmonizes above the lead, who sings the melody. The barbershop tenor range is B♭-below-middle C (B♭3) to D-above-high C (D5), though it is written an octave lower. The "lead" in barbershop music is equivalent to the normal tenor range.
In bluegrass music, the melody line is called the lead. Tenor is sung an interval of a third above the lead. Baritone is the fifth of the scale that has the lead as a tonic, and may be sung below the lead, or even above the lead (and the tenor), in which case it is called "high baritone."
Though strictly not musical, the Muslim call to prayer (azan) is always chanted by tenors, possibly due to the highly placed resonance of the tenor voice which allows it to be heard from a longer distance than baritones or basses during pre-amplification times. Some such chanters (termed bilals) may modulate up to E3 in certain passages, while incorporating a distinctive Middle-Eastern coloratura run.



Tenor voice classification

Within choral and pop music, singers are classified into voice parts based almost solely on vocal range with little consideration for other qualities in the voice. Within classical solo singing, however, a person is classified as a tenor through the identification of several vocal traits, including range, vocal timbre, vocal weight, vocal tessitura, vocal resonance, and vocal transition points (lifts or "passaggio") within the singer's voice. These different traits are used to identify different sub-types within the tenor voice sometimes referred to as fächer (sg. fach, from German Fach or Stimmfach, "vocal category"). Within opera, particular roles are written with specific kinds of tenor voices in mind, causing certain roles to be associated with certain kinds of voices.

Here follows the operatic tenor fächer, with examples of the roles from the standard repertory that they commonly sing. It should be noted that there is considerable overlap between the various categories of role and of voice-type; and that some singers have begun with lyric voices but have transformed with time into spinto or even dramatic tenors; Enrico Caruso is a prime example of this kind of vocal development. It must be said that in the operatic canon the highest top note generally written by composers is B. Top Cs are rare (they are either given as oppure that is, up to the singer to interpolate or are traditional additions). An ability to sing C and above, therefore, is musically superfluous. Indeed, many famous tenors never even attempted C, at least on record; for example, in Caruso's 1906 recording of "Che gelida manina", the whole aria is transposed to avoid the oppure top C.




Leggero tenor

Also known as the "tenore di grazia", the leggero tenor is essentially the male equivalent of a lyric coloratura. This voice is light, agile, and capable of executing difficult passages of fioritura. The typical leggero tenor possesses a range spanning from approximately C3 to Eb5, with a few being able to sing up to F5 or higher in full voice. In some cases, the chest register of the leggero tenor may extend below C3. Voices of this type are utilized frequently in the operas of Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini and in music dating from the Baroque period.
Leggero tenor roles in operas:

Arnold, William Tell (Rossini)
Arturo, I puritani (Bellini)
Count Almaviva, The Barber of Seville (Rossini)
Count Ory, Le comte Ory (Rossini)
Ernesto, Don Pasquale (Donizetti)
Elvino, La sonnambula (Bellini)
Henry Morosus, Die schweigsame Frau (Strauss)
Lindoro, L'italiana in Algeri (Rossini)
Don Ramiro, La Cenerentola (Rossini)
Tonio, La fille du régiment (Donizetti)

Notable leggero tenor singers include:
John Aler
Luigi Alva
Rockwell Blake
Lawrence Brownlee
Fernando De Lucia
Juan Diego Flórez
Raúl Giménez
John van Kesteren
Gregory Kunde
Nicola Monti
William Matteuzzi
Léopold Simoneau
Ferruccio Tagliavini
Cesare Valletti




Lyric tenor


A warm graceful voice with a bright, full timbre that is strong but not heavy and can be heard over an orchestra. Lyric tenors have a range from approximately the C one octave below middle C (C3) to the D one octave above middle C (D5). Similarly, their lower range may extend a few notes below the C3. There are many vocal shades to the lyric tenor group, repertoire should be selected according to the weight, colors, and abilities of the voice.

Lyric tenor roles in operas:
Alfredo, La traviata (Verdi)
Chevalier, Dialogues of the Carmelites (Poulenc)
David, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner)
Il Duca di Mantova, Rigoletto (Verdi)
Edgardo, Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti)
Faust, Faust (Gounod)
Fenton, Falstaff (Verdi)
Hoffmann, The Tales of Hoffmann (Offenbach)
Lensky, Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky)
Oronte, I Lombardi alla prima crociata (Verdi)
Paris, La belle Hélène (Offenbach)
Pinkerton, Madama Butterfly (Puccini)
Rinuccio, Gianni Schicchi (Puccini)
Rodolfo, La bohème (Puccini)
Roméo, Roméo et Juliette (Gounod)
Werther, Werther (Massenet)
Wilhelm Meister, Mignon (Thomas)

Notable lyric tenor singers include:
Roberto Alagna
Giacomo Aragall
Piotr Beczała
Evgeny Belyaev
Bülent Bezdüz
Jussi Björling
Alessandro Bonci
José Carreras
Richard Crooks
Giuseppe Di Stefano
Giuseppe Filianoti
Salvatore Fisichella
Miguel Fleta
Ernst Haefliger
Vittorio Grigolo
Ivan Kozlovsky
Alfredo Kraus
Sergei Lemeshev
Luis Lima
John McCormack
Francesco Marconi
Luciano Pavarotti
Alfred Piccaver
Matthew Polenzani
Jacques Pottier
Nicolai Gedda
Gianni Raimondi
Joseph Schmidt
Dmitri Smirnov
Leonid Sobinov
Tito Schipa
Richard Tauber
Alain Vanzo
Ramón Vargas
Rolando Villazón
Fritz Wunderlich




Spinto tenor


This voice has the brightness and height of a lyric tenor, but with a heavier vocal weight enabling the voice to be "pushed" to dramatic climaxes with less strain than the lighter-voice counterparts. Spinto tenors have a darker timbre than a lyric tenor, without having a vocal color as dark as many (not all) dramatic tenors. The German equivalent of the Spinto fach is the Jugendlicher Heldentenor and encompasses many of the Dramatic tenor roles as well as some Wagner roles such as Lohengrin and Stolzing. The difference is often the depth and metal in the voice where some lyric tenors age or push their way into singing as a Spinto giving them a lighter tone and Jugendlicher Heldentenors tend to be either young heldentenors or true lyric spinto voices giving them a dark dramatic tenor like tone. Spinto tenors have a range from approximately the C one octave below middle C (C3) to the C one octave above middle C (C5).

Spinto tenor roles in operas:
Andrea Chénier, Andrea Chénier (Giordano)
Calaf, Turandot (Puccini)
Canio, Pagliacci (Leoncavallo)
Des Grieux, Manon Lescaut (Puccini)
Don Carlo, Don Carlos (Verdi)
Don José, Carmen (Bizet)
Erik, Der Fliegende Holländer (Wagner)
Ernani, Ernani (Verdi)
Hermann, Queen of Spades (Tchaikovsky)
Macduff, Macbeth (opera) (Verdi)
Manrico, Il trovatore (Verdi)
Mario Cavaradossi, Tosca (Puccini)
Max, Der Freischütz (Weber)
Pollione Norma (Bellini)
Radames Aida (Verdi)
Stiffelio Stiffelio (Verdi)
Gustavo, Un ballo in maschera (Verdi)
Turiddu, Cavalleria rusticana (Mascagni)

Notable spinto tenor singers include:
Peter Anders
Daniele Barioni
Carlo Bergonzi
Franco Corelli
Mario Filippeschi
Plácido Domingo
Beniamino Gigli
Jan Kiepura
Giacomo Lauri-Volpi
Giovanni Martinelli
Jonas Kaufmann
Aureliano Pertile
Vyacheslav Polozov
Georges Thill
Richard Tucker





Dramatic tenor

Also "tenore di forza" or "robusto" – an emotive, ringing and very powerful, clarion, heroic tenor sound. The dramatic tenor has an approximate range from the B one octave below middle C (B2) to the B one octave above middle C (B4) with some able to sing up to the C one octave above middle C (C5).[3] Many successful dramatic tenors though have historically avoided the coveted high C in performance. Their lower range tends to extend into the baritone tessitura or, a few notes below the C3, even down to A♭2. Some dramatic tenors have a rich and dark tonal colour to their voice (such as the mature Enrico Caruso) while others (like Francesco Tamagno) possess a bright, steely timbre.

Dramatic tenor roles in operas:
Canio, Pagliacci (Leoncavallo)
Dick Johnson, La fanciulla del West (Puccini)
Don Alvaro, La forza del destino (Verdi)
Florestan, Fidelio (Beethoven)
Enée, Les Troyens (Berlioz)
Otello, Otello (Verdi)
Peter Grimes, Peter Grimes (Britten)
Samson, Samson et Dalila (Saint-Saëns)

Notable dramatic tenor singers include:
Franco Bonisolli
Enrico Caruso
Carlo Cossutta
Giuseppe Giacomini
Mario Del Monaco
James McCracken
Francesco Merli
Jean de Reszke
Francesco Tamagno
Ramón Vinay
Giovanni Zenatello




Heldentenor


A rich, dark, powerful and dramatic voice. As its name implies, the Heldentenor (English: heroic tenor) vocal fach features in the German romantic operatic repertoire. The Heldentenor is the German equivalent of the tenore drammatico, however with a more baritonal quality: the typical Wagnerian protagonist. The keystone of the heldentenor's repertoire is arguably Wagner's Siegfried, an extremely demanding role requiring a wide vocal range and great power, plus tremendous stamina and acting ability. Often the heldentenor is a baritone who has transitioned to this fach or tenors who have been misidentified as baritones. Therefore the heldentenor voice might or might not have facility up to high B or C. The repertoire, however, rarely calls for such high notes.

Heldentenor roles in operas:
Florestan, Fidelio (Beethoven)
Tannhäuser, Tannhäuser (Wagner)
Lohengrin, Lohengrin (Wagner)
Loge, Das Rheingold (Wagner)
Siegmund, Die Walküre (Wagner)
Siegfried, Siegfried (Wagner)
Siegfried, Götterdämmerung (Wagner)
Walther von Stolzing, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner)
Tristan, Tristan und Isolde (Wagner)
Parsifal, Parsifal (Wagner)
Herod, Salome (Strauss)
Aegisth, Elektra (Strauss)
Bacchus, Ariadne auf Naxos (Strauss)
The Emperor, Die Frau ohne Schatten (Strauss)
Menelaus, Die ägyptische Helena (Strauss)
Apollo, Daphne (Strauss)
Drum Major, Wozzeck (Berg)
Paul, Die tote Stadt (Korngold)
The Stranger, Das Wunder der Heliane (Korngold)

Notable Heldentenor singers include:
Bernd Aldenhoff
Hans Beirer
Richard Cassilly
Peter Hofmann
Hans Hopf
James King
Heinrich Knote
René Kollo
Ernst Kraus
Max Lorenz
Lauritz Melchior
Albert Niemann
Ticho Parly
Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld
Erik Schmedes
Ludwig Suthaus
Set Svanholm
Jess Thomas
Josef Tichatschek
Jacques Urlus
Jon Vickers
Franz Völker
Wolfgang Windgassen




Mozart tenor


In Mozart singing, the most important element is the instrumental approach of the vocal sound which implies: flawless and slender emission of sound, perfect intonation, legato, diction and phrasing, capability to cope with the dynamic requirements of the score, beauty of timbre, secure line of singing through perfect support and absolute breath control, musical intelligence, body discipline, elegance, nobility, agility and, most importantly, ability for dramatic expressiveness within the narrow borders imposed by the strict Mozartian style.
The German Mozart tenor tradition goes back to end of the 1920s when Mozart tenors started making use of Caruso's technique (a tenor who rarely sang Mozart) to achieve and improve the required dynamics and dramatic expressiveness.

Mozart tenor roles in Mozart Operas:
Spirit of Christianity, Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots
Oebalus, Apollo et Hyacinthus
Bastien, Bastien und Bastienne
Fracasso, La finta semplice
Mitridate, Mitridate, re di Ponto
Aceste, Ascanio in Alba
Scipione, Il sogno di Scipione
Lucio Silla, Lucio Silla
Don Anchise, La finta giardiniera
Alessandro, Il re pastore
Idomeneo, Idamante, Idomeneo
Belmonte, Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Don Ottavio, Don Giovanni
Ferrando, Così fan tutte
Tito, La clemenza di Tito
Tamino, The Magic Flute

Notable Mozart tenor singers include:
Francisco Araiza
Anton Dermota
Peter Schreier
Léopold Simoneau
Gösta Winbergh
Fritz Wunderlich
Christoph Prégardien




Tenor buffo or Spieltenor


A tenor with good acting ability, and the ability to create distinct voices for his characters. This voice specializes in smaller comic roles. The range of the tenor buffo is from the C one octave below middle C (C3) to the C one octave above middle C (C5). The tessitura of these parts lies lower than the other tenor roles. These parts are often played by younger tenors who have not yet reached their full vocal potential or older tenors who are beyond their prime singing years. Only rarely will a singer specialize in these roles for an entire career. In French opéra comique, supporting roles requiring a thin voice but good acting are sometimes described as 'trial', after the singer Antoine Trial (1737–1795), examples being in the operas of Ravel and in The Tales of Hoffmann.

Tenor buffo or Spieltenor roles in operas:
Count Danilo Danilovitsch, The Merry Widow (Lehár)
Don Basilio, The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart)
Mime, Der Ring des Nibelungen (Wagner)
Don Anchise/ Il Podestà, La finta giardiniera (Mozart)
Monostatos, The Magic Flute (Mozart)
Pedrillo, Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Mozart)
Slender, The Merry Wives of Windsor (opera) (Nicolai)
John Styx, Orpheus in the Underworld (Offenbach)
Prince Paul, La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein (Offenbach)
Kálmán Zsupán, The Gypsy Baron (Strauss II)
The Captain, Wozzeck (Berg)
The Magician, The Consul (Menotti)
Beppe, Pagliacci (Leoncavallo)
Frantz, The Tales of Hoffmann (Offenbach)
Spoletta, Tosca (Puccini)
Goro, Madama Butterfly (Puccini)
Pong, Turandot (Puccini)
Gastone, La traviata (Verdi)
Roderigo, Otello (Verdi)
Gherardo, Gianni Schicchi (Puccini)
King Kaspar, Amahl and the Night Visitors (Menotti)
Triquet Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky)
The Holy Fool Boris Godunov (Mussorgsky)
Pasquale Orlando Paladino (Haydn)

Notable tenor buffo or Spieltenor singers include:
Charles Anthony
Nico Castel
Graham Clark

 
 
 
 
 
Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)
This Italian tenor Enrico Caruso was the first star of the gramophone, and the first recording artist to sell a million copies. It’s no surprise. His sensational voice, impressive power, and art-meets-heart artistry are still a benchmark for all subsequent tenors. He premiered roles for all the major composers of his day, including Puccini. He was also fond of practical jokes, and, as the story goes, once slipped a hot sausage into the palm of diva-ish soprano Nellie Melba during the aria ‘Che gelida manina’ (‘Your tiny hand is frozen’) in La bohème. She didn’t find it funny. Key Recordings


Lauritz Melchior (1890-1973)
The Danish singer Lauritz Melchior was a tenor who began his career as a baritone, but as soon as he retrained as a tenor, he skipped over the middling-heavy roles and instantly became the most admired Heldentenor (the kind of power-blasting tenor who can sing Wagner) of the last century. His voice had a dark resonance with clarion top notes and - best of all - was unbelievably huge and tireless. His career was at its peak between the 1920s and 1940s, but he was still singing successfully until his 70th birthday. He also had a great sense of fun, and appeared in five Hollywood musicals.

Beniamino Gigli (1890-1957)
Upon the death of Enrico Caruso in 1921, Beniamino Gigli was hailed as his obvious successor and he excelled in many of the same roles at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. His beautifully sweet voice was smaller than Caruso’s, but had a similar ‘spin’ which allowed it to ring out into an auditorium with thrilling power. (He understandably disliked the term ‘Caruso Secondo’, preferring the moniker ‘Gigli Primo’). He made over 20 films, and continued to sing into his sixties.

Jussi Björling (1911-60)
Pavarotti once said that he admired the voice of Swedish tenor Jussi Björling more than any other, and modelled his performances on Björling’s recordings. It’s not hard to see why. Björling’s sound was pure and clear, and swelled out magically the higher and louder it rose. He sang mainly lyric roles (these are roles which are not too heavy, and not too fast) such as Rodolfo (La bohème), Roméo (Roméo et Juliette), and Gounod’s Faust, and made them his own. His life was cut tragically short by alcoholism.


Nicolai Gedda (b.1925)
Swedish tenor Nicolai Gedda was the pre-eminent Mozart singer of the last century, famed for his beautifully polished and even sound, his exquisite phrasing, and his musical intelligence. After he auditioned for the famous record producer Walter Legge in 1948, Legge made him the unofficial ‘house tenor’ of EMI, and he recorded hundreds of discs for the company including some heavier roles that were not ideally suited to him. Fluent in Swedish, Russian, German, French, English, Italian, Spanish and Latin he sang operas and recitals comfortably in all of these tongues. He was still recording roles at the age of 78.

Jon Vickers (b.1926)
The Canadian tenor Jon Vickers was blessed not only with a huge voice and thrilling sound but with great acting skills too, and his performances as Tristan have become the stuff of legend. He also became firmly associated with the difficult role of Aeneas in Berlioz’s Les Troyens (The Trojans) when the opera was finally given a full staging 1957. His Peter Grimes is still the benchmark for performers today. Because his career flourished during the golden age of stereo recording, many of his most famous roles are on disc, and they are still highly prized.

Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007)
With his instantly recognisable silvery tone, easy top notes and vocal agility, Luciano Pavarotti was an ideal candidate for lighter roles and he became the most commercially successful tenor of the 20th century. With canny management, he also became a household name outside the realms of opera, and his ‘Three Tenors’ concert with Plácido Domingo and José Carreras was one of the most significant phenomena in recent classical music history. Alas, his ongoing battle with his waistline did nothing to dispel the preconception that all opera singers are overweight.


Plácido Domingo

Plácido Domingo is the most versatile tenor, with the longest and most wide-ranging career in history. He started as a baritone in operetta, moved up to sing light tenor parts, then heavier roles, and then even added Wagner to his repertoire. He now sings major baritone roles again, conducts operas, and administrates an opera company. He’s also a star in lighter music and crossover. A phenomenon, and a legend in his own lifetime.

Jonas Kaufmann (b.1969)
Combining the holy trinity of brooding good looks, charismatic stage presence and a powerful and versatile voice, German tenor Jonas Kaufmann seems to be the prince-in-waiting to Domingo’s Superman. Superb in Italian opera, the almost baritonal heft to his voice means he has been moving into Wagner territory of late, proving he has the staying power to make a lasting career at the top of the pile.

Juan Diego Flórez (b.1973)
There has never been a recorded tenor with such a secure high sound, glistening timbre or fearsome talent for rat-a-tat coloratura as the Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez. These gifts have even had an effect on lyric repertoire, and now operas that were previously considered too difficult to sing have come back onto stages again. It hasn’t hurt his career that he’s slim and pleasingly photogenic.


Dmitri Hvorostovsky (b. 1962)

Dmitri Aleksandrovich Hvorostovsky PAR (Дмитрий Александрович Хворостовский, born 16 October 1962), is a Russian operatic baritone.

 
 
 
No. 1 – PLÁCIDO DOMINGO

There have been some truly legendary tenors over the ages but there’s one singing today who is so far ahead of his rivals that you can scarcely squeeze him into the same mental space: Plácido Domingo. Not only does he have the visceral, powerful, awe-inspiring high notes that are the calling card of any world-class tenor, but he’s also a great actor with a magnetic stage presence.

He’s also a phenomenally hard worker: at the age of 64 when most other tenors have croaked their last addio he’s still adding new roles to his enormous repertoire. And as if that weren’t enough, he also happens to be a great conductor plus the general director of two major American opera companies. For all these reasons he’s really the only candidate for the title of World’s Number One Tenor.

But he’s never been one to rest on his laurels, and in recent years Domingo has taken on more of the greatest challenges in the heroic tenor repertoire: roles such as Siegmund and Siegfried in the Ring cycle, and Parsifal. But there’s one role that’s so intense, and so demanding in terms of the stamina it requires, that so far he’s avoided it. But not any longer. He still may never sing it live, but Domingo has finally recorded the role known as the tenor’s Everest: Tristan in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde.

It’s a huge leap for someone who started out singing baritone parts in zarzuelas (Spanish musicals) and later began his operatic career with lighter lyric tenor roles. But then few tenors can expect to have a career lasting more than 45 years, or become conductors, or run opera companies. No wonder his motto is, “If I rest, I rust”: it’s as if he’s packed three lives into the space of one.

Domingo’s biography is a tale of phenomenal talent, hard work, and great rewards. With one surprise: he never had a period of sustained, formal vocal training, but picked up his technique on the job.

He was born in 1941 in Madrid, but his family moved to Mexico when he was eight. He began his musical education studying piano, composition and conducting at the National Conservatory in Mexico City. From the age of 16 he also took roles in his parents’ zarzuela company, where he laid the foundations for his solid sense of stagecraft.

There followed a difficult period about which Domingo rarely speaks. He married at 16 and became a father at 17, but the marriage didn’t last. To support his family he took on a variety of jobs, such as playing the piano in bars. He was given small tenor roles at the Mexican National Opera and even landed a part in the first Mexican production of My Fair Lady.

In 1962 he married his current wife, the soprano Marta Ornelas, and they moved to Israel to join the Hebrew National Opera. It was here that his real career began – he has said that his two and a half years in Tel Aviv, constantly learning new roles and perfecting his technique, was worth 10 years of training elsewhere. One of many other things he learned in Israel was his fluent Hebrew.

Domingo has always been a great sports fan: he loves playing and watching football and tennis, he’s a Formula One nut, and in his youth was an avid follower of bullfighting. But in his 20s he still hadn’t learned to swim and he once related a terrifying incident that occurred during his stay in the Middle East.

He and his wife were paddling in the Mediterranean but found that they had been swept away from the shore and started to panic. But when he saw lifeguards coming to rescue Marta, he fought his hysteria and turned over onto his back, thinking he’d let the sea carry him where it wanted. A little while later, the lifeguards came for him, too. “In a not too far-fetched way, the story gives the key to Domingo’s basic quality of calmness under stress,” noted a journalist at the time.

It’s a calmness that has paid handsome dividends. Once he left Israel, his career rapidly took off. The New York City Opera gave him the lead role in the world premiere of Don Rodrigo by Alberto Ginastera in 1966, and within two years he had sung at the Vienna State Opera, the Metropolitan Opera in New York and La Scala, Milan.

He made his Covent Garden debut in 1971. His success has just kept growing – he even holds the record for the highest number of curtain calls ever: he took 101 at the Vienna State Opera in 1991 after a performance of Otello. It’s the same story in the pit: since his debut conducting La Traviata at New York City Opera in 1973, this aspect of his career has gone from strength to strength.

Is there anything this man can’t do, one wonders? Even the criticism that was levelled at him early in his career – that he was singing too much and would damage his voice – has proved unfounded. In 1972 he sang 95 times, almost double what most singers would consider healthy.

“The more I sing, the better I sound,’ has always been his reply. "I get the right amount of rest for my voice.”

He’s certainly showing no signs of slowing down, what with his Tristan recording, and two other new roles coming up: Cyrano in Cyrano de Bergerac by Alfano (May 2005), and the world premiere of Tan Dun’s The First Emperor (2006), both at the Met in New York. His name may mean "peaceful Sunday" – but it certainly doesn’t look like he’s going to get many of them in the immediate future.

No.2 – LUCIANO PAVAROTTI

The Modena-born son of a baker and amateur tenor, Pavarotti sang alongside his father in the local town choir while studying to become a schoolteacher. Opting instead for a career in singing, he rose steadily to prominence, making sensational debuts in 1963 as Rodolfo in La Bohème at Covent Garden and the following year as Idamante in Mozart’s Idomeneo at Glyndebourne. His La Scala debut, again as Rodolfo, was in 1965, with Mimì sung by his fellow-Modenese, Mirella Freni (she likes to refer to him as “my little brother”).

From then on, Pavarotti-mania just kept on growing. Its basis was the gorgeous brilliance of the voice, intelligent musicianship to match and, in his heyday as “The King Of The High Cs”, sensational top notes. Mere stockiness as a younger man developed into massive bulk, making Pavarotti’s appearances outside comic opera visually less than convincing. But his fans forgive him anything, and you can hear why.

No.3 – ENRICO CARUSO

The son of a factory mechanic (and bass singer) in Naples, Caruso was a teenage singing star there. By 1897 when he auditioned for Puccini, the composer asked him: “Who sent you to me? God himself?” Caruso sang Dick Johnson in the 1910 premiere of Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West – one of his many appearances at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, where he became virtually resident. He survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake but died, far too young, of pneumonia and pleurisy.

Caruso became a household name through his many recordings, which show why his status as one of the greatest ever tenors has never really been challenged. Immense, honey-gold tone; a lustrous top register, plus a strong, baritonal low one; fabulous phrasing and breath control – it’s all there. So is a truly unique quality – almost radioactive – to the voice itself: an instantaneous arrival at the maximum resonance and brilliance of every note.

No.4 – BENJAMINO GIGLI

Born in Ancona into a poor family, as a boy Gigli sang in the local cathedral choir. Then he went to study in Rome, supporting himself by working in a pharmacy and as a domestic servant. His big break came when he won a singing competition in Parma in 1914. Steady upward progress followed, and by 1918 he was singing under Toscanini at La Scala in Boito’s Mefistofele. International fame followed after the end of the First World War, and by 1920 Gigli was singing to great acclaim at the Metropolitan in New York – just before Caruso’s death.

Gigli truly had what it took to be “Caruso’s successor”, first in Italy when Caruso was based largely in New York, and then at the Met itself. At first a medium-light tenor, he soon came to excel in weightier Puccini and Verdi roles with his voice’s full, silver-gold tone, which he delivered with much passion and fluency.

No.5 – JUSSI BJORLING

Björling came from a singing family: as a child he travelled around Sweden with the Björling Male Quartet, whose other members were his father and brothers. Success in Mozart and Rossini roles at the Royal Opera of Stockholm (where he made his debut aged just 19) soon led to appearances across Europe. He made his Metropolitan debut, as Rodolfo in La Bohème, when he was only 26.

Personal insecurities plus a vulnerability to alcohol and, latterly, heart problems, combined to make Björling’s life and career tragically short. His silver-toned voice was produced with marvellous purity, and in not-too-heavy Italian roles such as Gustavo in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera he is still widely considered unsurpassed – a unique achievement for a non-Latin tenor. His 1951 recording of Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers duet was a huge best-seller: its second verse (after a less than perfectly in-tune first) contains some of the loveliest tenor singing ever put onto disc.

No.6 – ALFREDO KRAUS

Probably the finest tenore di grazia (light lyric tenor) of his generation, Kraus was born in Gran Canaria, where he studied engineering and sang in choirs. He was the first to respect the limitations of his beautiful and keenly focused, but far from large voice: “Never take a step longer than your leg,” he liked to say. His fame rested on the relatively small repertory that he felt worked for him.

Kraus was outstanding in the bel canto styles of Bellini, Donizetti and Rossini, while his incisive top notes made some key Verdi roles viable too: the Duke in Rigoletto was a speciality. So were the leads in Massenet’s Werther and Offenbach’s The Tales Of Hoffmann; and the sheer quality of his Mozart, particularly Ferrando in Così Fan Tutte, was exceptional. He was still singing with his trademark vividness and superb technique in his 70s.

No.7 – TITO SCHIPA

Schipa came from a poor background in Lecce in the Italian south, where the beauty of his lyrical voice was soon noticed in church and school choirs. After study in Milan he made a triumphant appearance at La Scala in 1915. Puccini created the role of Ruggero in La Rondine for Schipa in 1917; and during the next two decades he was a celebrity at the Chicago and Metropolitan Operas before returning to Italy.

Lacking serious firepower and high notes, Schipa brilliantly based his singing on a smooth, beautifully controlled style that enthralled his audiences. He combined a large repertory of songs with a few carefully chosen roles such as the Duke in Rigoletto, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni and Des Grieux in Massenet’s Manon. Gigli once said: “When Schipa sang, we all had to bow down to his greatness.”

No.8 – LAURITZ MELCHOIR

Probably the greatest Wagnerian Heldentenor ever was born in Copenhagen on the same date as Gigli and started out as a baritone. Then a colleague at the Royal Danish Opera sensed that Melchior was “a tenor with the lid on”, and encouraged him to re-train. Melchior’s first Tannhäuser in 1918 marked the start of a spectacular career.

His voice’s tireless strength in Wagner’s long and ultra-demanding roles was complemented by beautiful tone, bomb-proof top notes, and a strong low register. Melchior came late (in 1929) to the most punishing Wagnerian part of all, the title role in Tristan And Isolde, but by his retirement he had performed it 223 times.

No.9 – CARLO BERGONZI

Bergonzi was initially held up in his progress towards becoming the stellar Italian tenor of his generation – first by training as a baritone, then by imprisonment by the occupying Germans for anti-Nazi activities. In his mid-20s he re-trained as a tenor; by 1953 he had caused a stir at La Scala and world fame followed.

Favourite roles included Cavaradossi in Puccini’s Tosca, Manrico in Verdi’s Il Trovatore and Canio in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci – all strikingly heavy roles, encompassed with great technical skill by his essentially lyrical tenor voice, whose passionate brilliance was supported by legendary breath control. A poor-ish actor, he was nonetheless an intelligent musician, always interested in unusual repertoire: his first radio recital, in 1951, concentrated on rare Verdi arias.

No.10 – PETER PEARS

Pears’s unique and unmistakable tenor was quite different from the Italian, German or Nordic kind: not huge in size, it was nonetheless beautifully produced, sustained by great stamina, and harnessed to superb musical and acting skills. He was the lifelong partner of Benjamin Britten; nearly all of the composer’s operas contain a major role devised for, and premiered by Pears – most famously the lead in Peter Grimes, whose first performance in 1945 propelled both artists to international fame. Pears excelled also as a Lieder and oratorio singer, especially in Bach’s Passions.

 
 
 
 
Baritone
 
A baritone is a type of classical male singing voice whose vocal range lies between the bass and the tenor voice types. It is the most common male voice.[2] Originally from the Greek βαρύτονος (barýtonos), meaning deep (or heavy) sounding, music for this voice is typically written in the range from the second F below middle C to the F above middle C (i.e. F2–F#4) in choral music, and from the second A below middle C to the A above middle C (A2 to A4) in operatic music, but can be extended at either end.
 
 
History

The first use of the term "baritone" emerged as baritonans late in the 15th century, usually in French sacred polyphonic music. At this early stage it was frequently used as the lowest of the voices (including the bass), but in 17th-century Italy the term was all-encompassing and used to describe the average male choral voice.
Baritones took roughly the range we know today at the beginning of the 18th century, but they were still lumped in with their bass colleagues until well into the 19th century. Indeed, many operatic works of the 18th century have roles marked as bass that in reality are low baritone roles (or bass-baritone parts in modern parlance). Examples of this are to be found, for instance, in the operas and oratorios of George Frideric Handel. The greatest and most enduring parts for baritones in 18th-century operatic music were composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. They include Count Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, Papageno in The Magic Flute and the Don in Don Giovanni.

19th century

The bel canto style of vocalism which arose in Italy in the early 19th century supplanted the castrato-dominated opera seria of the previous century. It led to the baritone being viewed as a separate voice category from the bass. Traditionally, basses in operas had been cast as authority figures such as a king or high priest; but with the advent of the more fluid baritone voice, the roles allotted by composers to lower male voices expanded in the direction of trusted companions or even romantic leads—normally the province of tenors. More often than not, however, baritones found themselves portraying villains.

The principal composers of bel canto opera are considered to be:
Gioachino Rossini (The Barber of Seville, William Tell);
Gaetano Donizetti (Don Pasquale, L'elisir d'amore, Lucia di Lammermoor, Lucrezia Borgia, La favorite);
Vincenzo Bellini (I puritani, Norma);
Giacomo Meyerbeer (Les Huguenots); and
the young Giuseppe Verdi (Nabucco, Ernani, Macbeth, Rigoletto, La traviata, Il trovatore).

The prolific operas of these composers, plus the works of Verdi's maturity, such as Un ballo in maschera, La forza del destino, Don Carlos/Don Carlo, the revised Simon Boccanegra, Aida, Otello and Falstaff, blazed many new and rewarding performance pathways for baritones. Figaro in Il barbiere is often called the first true baritone role. However, Donizetti and Verdi in their vocal writing went on to emphasise the top fifth of the baritone voice, rather than its lower notes—thus generating a more brilliant sound. Further pathways opened up when the musically complex and physically demanding operas of Richard Wagner began to enter the mainstream repertory of the world's opera houses during the second half of the 19th century.
The major international baritone of the first half of the 19th century was the Italian Antonio Tamburini (1800–1876). He was a famous Don Giovanni in Mozart's eponymous opera as well as being a Bellini and Donizetti specialist. Commentators praised his voice for its beauty, flexibility and smooth tonal emission, which are the hallmarks of a bel canto singer. Tamburini's range, however, was probably closer to that of a bass-baritone than to that of a modern "Verdi baritone". His French equivalent was Henri-Bernard Dabadie, who was a mainstay of the Paris Opera between 1819 and 1836 and the creator of several major Rossinian baritone roles, including Guillaume Tell. Dabadie sang in Italy, too, where he originated the role of Belcore in L'elisir d'amore in 1832.

The most important of Tamburini's Italianate successors were all Verdians. They included:
Giorgio Ronconi, who created the title role in Verdi's Nabucco
Felice Varesi, who created the title roles in Macbeth and Rigoletto as well as Germont in La traviata
Antonio Superchi, the originator of Don Carlo in Ernani
Francesco Graziani, who was the original Don Carlo di Vargas in La forza del destino
Leone Giraldoni, the creator of Renato in Un ballo in maschera and the first Simon Boccanegra
Enrico Delle Sedie, who was London's first Renato
Adriano Pantaleoni, renowned for his performances as Amonasro in Aida as well as other Verdi roles at La Scala, Milan
Francesco Pandolfini, whose singing at La Scala during the 1870s was praised by Verdi
Antonio Cotogni, a much lauded singer in Milan, London and Saint Petersburg, the first Italian Posa in Don Carlos and later a great vocal pedagogue, too
Filippo Coletti, creator of Verdi's Gusmano in Alzira, Francesco in I Masnadieri, Germont in the second version of La traviata and for whom Verdi considered writing the (unrealized) opera 'Lear';
Giuseppe Del Puente, who sang Verdi to acclaim in the United States.
Among the non-Italian born baritones that were active in the third quarter of the 19th century, Tamburini's mantle as an outstanding exponent of Mozart and Donizetti's music was probably taken up most faithfully by a Belgian, Camille Everardi, who later settled in Russia and taught voice. In France, Paul Barroilhet succeeded Dabadie as the Paris opera's best known baritone. Like Dabadie, he also sang in Italy and created an important Donizetti role: in his case, Alphonse in La favorite (in 1840).
Luckily, the gramophone was invented early enough to capture on disc the voices of the top Italian Verdi and Donizetti baritones of the last two decades of the 19th century, whose operatic performances were characterized by considerable re-creative freedom and a high degree of technical finish. They included Mattia Battistini (known as the "King of Baritones"), Giuseppe Kaschmann (born Josip Kašman) who, atypically, sang Wagner's Telramund and Amfortas not in Italian but in German, at the Bayreuth Festival in the 1890s; Giuseppe Campanari; Antonio Magini-Coletti; Mario Ancona (chosen to be the first Silvio in Pagliacci); and Antonio Scotti, who came to the Met from Europe in 1899 and remained on the roster of singers until 1933. Antonio Pini-Corsi was the standout Italian buffo baritone in the period between about 1880 and World War I, reveling in comic opera roles by Rossini, Donizetti and Paer, among others. In 1893, he created the part of Ford in Verdi's last opera, Falstaff.

Notable among their contemporaries were the cultured and technically adroit French baritones Jean Lassalle (hailed as the most accomplished baritone of his generation), Victor Maurel (the creator of Verdi's Iago, Falstaff and Tonio in Leoncavallo's Pagliacci), Paul Lhérie (the first Posa in the revised, Italian-language version of Don Carlos), and Maurice Renaud (a singing actor of the first magnitude). Lassalle, Maurel and Renaud enjoyed superlative careers on either side of the Atlantic and left a valuable legacy of recordings. Five other significant Francophone baritones who recorded, too, during the early days of the gramophone/phonograph were Léon Melchissédec and Jean Noté of the Paris Opera and Gabriel Soulacroix, Henry Albers and Charles Gilibert of the Opéra-Comique. The Quaker baritone David Bispham, who sang in London and New York between 1891 and 1903, was the leading American male singer of this generation. He also recorded for the gramophone.
The oldest-born star baritone known for sure to have made solo gramophone discs was the Englishman Sir Charles Santley (1834–1922). Santley made his operatic debut in Italy in 1858 and became one of Covent Garden's leading singers. He was still giving critically acclaimed concerts in London in the 1890s. The composer of Faust, Charles Gounod, wrote Valentine's aria "Even bravest heart" for him at his request for the London production in 1864 so that the leading baritone would have an aria. A couple of primitive cylinder recordings dating from about 1900 have been attributed by collectors to the dominant French baritone of the 1860s and 1870s, Jean-Baptiste Faure (1830–1914), the creator of Posa in Verdi's original French-language version of Don Carlos. It is doubtful, however, that Faure (who retired in 1886) made the cylinders. However, a contemporary of Faure's, Antonio Cotogni, (1831–1918)—probably the foremost Italian baritone of his generation—can be heard, briefly and dimly, at the age of 77, on a duet recording with the tenor Francesco Marconi. (Cotogni and Marconi had sung together in the first London performance of Amilcare Ponchielli's La Gioconda in 1883, performing the roles of Barnaba and Enzo respectively.)

There are 19th-century references in the musical literature to certain baritone subtypes. These include the light and tenorish baryton-Martin, named after French singer Jean-Blaise Martin (1768/69–1837), and the deeper, more powerful Heldenbariton (today's bass-baritone) of Wagnerian opera.
Perhaps the most accomplished Heldenbaritons of Wagner's day were August Kindermann, Franz Betz and Theodor Reichmann. Betz created Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger and undertook Wotan in the first Der Ring des Nibelungen cycle at Bayreuth, while Reichmann created Amfortas in Parsifal, also at Bayreuth. Lyric German baritones sang lighter Wagnerian roles such as Wolfram in Tannhäuser, Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde or Telramund in Lohengrin. They made large strides, too, in the performance of art song and oratorio, with Franz Schubert favouring several baritones for his vocal music, in particular Johann Michael Vogl.

Nineteenth-century operettas became the preserve of lightweight baritone voices. They were given comic parts in the tradition of the previous century's comic bass by Gilbert and Sullivan in many of their productions. This did not prevent the French master of operetta, Jacques Offenbach, from assigning the villain's role in The Tales of Hoffmann to a big-voiced baritone for the sake of dramatic effect. Other 19th-century French composers like Meyerbeer, Hector Berlioz, Camille Saint-Saëns, Georges Bizet and Jules Massenet wrote attractive parts for baritones, too. These included Nelusko in L'Africaine (Meyerbeer's last opera), Mephistopheles in La damnation de Faust (a role also sung by basses), the Priest of Dagon in Samson and Delilah, Escamillo in Carmen, Zurga in Les pêcheurs de perles, Lescaut in Manon, Athanael in Thaïs and Herod in Hérodiade. Russian composers included substantial baritone parts in their operas. Witness the title roles in Peter Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin (which received its first production in 1879) and Alexander Borodin's Prince Igor (1890).
Mozart continued to be sung throughout the 19th century although, generally speaking, his operas were not revered to the same extent that they are today by music critics and audiences. Back then, baritones rather than high basses normally sang Don Giovanni – arguably Mozart's greatest male operatic creation. Famous Dons of the late 19th and early 20th centuries included Scotti and Maurel, as well as Portugal's Francisco d'Andrade and Sweden's John Forsell.



20th century

The dawn of the 20th century opened up more opportunities for baritones than ever before as a taste for strenuously exciting vocalism and lurid, "slice-of-life" operatic plots took hold in Italy and spread elsewhere. The most prominent verismo baritones included such major singers in Europe and America as the polished Giuseppe De Luca (the first Sharpless in Madama Butterfly), Mario Sammarco (the first Gerard in Andrea Chénier), Eugenio Giraldoni (the first Scarpia in Tosca), Pasquale Amato (the first Rance in La fanciulla del West), Riccardo Stracciari (noted for his richly attractive timbre) and Domenico Viglione-Borghesi, whose voice was exceeded in size only by that of the lion-voiced Titta Ruffo. Ruffo was the most commanding Italian baritone of his era or, arguably, any other era. He was at his prime from the early 1900s to the early 1920s and enjoyed success in Italy, England and America (in Chicago and later at the Met).
Between them, these baritones established the echt performance style for baritones undertaking roles in verismo operas. The chief verismo composers were Giacomo Puccini, Ruggero Leoncavallo, Pietro Mascagni, Alberto Franchetti, Umberto Giordano and Francesco Cilea. Verdi's works continued to remain popular, however, with audiences in Italy, the Spanish-speaking countries, the United States and the United Kingdom and, interestingly enough, Germany, where there was a major Verdi revival in Berlin between the Wars.

Outside the field of Italian opera, an important addition to the Austro-German repertory occurred in 1905. This was the premiere of Richard Strauss's Salome, with the pivotal part of John the Baptist assigned to a baritone. (The enormous-voiced Dutch baritone Anton van Rooy, a Wagner specialist, sang John when the opera reached the Met in 1907). Then, in 1925, Germany's Leo Schützendorf created the title baritone role in Alban Berg's harrowing Wozzeck.[8] In a separate development, the French composer Claude Debussy's post-Wagnerian masterpiece Pelléas et Mélisande featured not one but two lead baritones at its 1902 premiere. These two baritones, Jean Périer and Hector Dufranne, possessed contrasting voices. (Dufranne – sometimes classed as a bass-baritone – had a darker, more powerful instrument than did Périer, who was a true baryton-Martin.)
Characteristic of the Wagnerian baritones of the 20th century was a general progression of individual singers from higher-lying baritone parts to lower-pitched ones. This was the case with Germany's Hans Hotter. Hotter made his debut in 1929. As a young singer he appeared in Verdi and created the Commandant in Richard Strauss's Friedenstag and Olivier in Capriccio. By the 1950s, however, he was being hailed as the top Wagnerian bass-baritone in the world. His Wotan was especially praised by critics for its musicianship. Other major Wagnerian baritones have included Hotter's predecessors Leopold Demuth, Anton van Rooy, Hermann Weil, Clarence Whitehill, Friedrich Schorr, Rudolf Bockelmann and Hans Hermann Nissen. Demuth, van Rooy, Weil and Whitehill were at their peak in the late 19th and early 20th centuries while Schorr, Bockelmann and Nissen were stars of the 1920s and 1930s.

In addition to their heavyweight Wagnerian cousins, there was a plethora of baritones with more lyrical voices active in Germany and Austria during the period between the outbreak of WW1 in 1914 and the end of WW2 in 1945. Among them were Joseph Schwarz (de), Heinrich Schlusnus, Herbert Janssen, Willi Domgraf-Fassbaender, Karl Schmidt-Walter and Gerhard Hüsch. Their abundant inter-war Italian counterparts included, among others, Carlo Galeffi, Giuseppe Danise, Enrico Molinari, Umberto Urbano, Cesare Formichi, Luigi Montesanto, Apollo Granforte, Benvenuto Franci, Renato Zanelli (who switched to tenor roles in 1924), Mario Basiola, Giovanni Inghilleri, Carlo Morelli (the Chilean-born younger brother of Renato Zanelli) and Carlo Tagliabue, who retired as late as 1958.

One of the best known Italian Verdi baritones of the 1920s and '30s, Mariano Stabile, sang Iago and Rigoletto and Falstaff (at La Scala) under the baton of Arturo Toscanini. Stabile also appeared in London, Chicago and Salzburg. He was noted more for his histrionic skills than for his voice, however. Stabile was followed by Tito Gobbi, a versatile singing actor capable of vivid comic and tragic performances during the years of his prime in the 1940s, '50s and early '60s. He learned more than 100 roles in his lifetime and was mostly known for his roles in Verdi and Puccini operas, including appearances as Scarpia opposite soprano Maria Callas as Tosca at Covent Garden.
Gobbi's competitors included Gino Bechi, Giuseppe Valdengo, Paolo Silveri, Giuseppe Taddei, Ettore Bastianini and Giangiacomo Guelfi. Another of Gobbi's contemporaries was the Welshman Geraint Evans, who famously sang Falstaff at Glyndebourne and created the roles of Mr. Flint and Mountjoy in works by Benjamin Britten. Some considered his best role to have been Wozzeck. The next significant Welsh baritone was Bryn Terfel. He made his premiere at Glyndebourne in 1990 and went on to build an international career as Falstaff and, more generally, in the operas of Mozart and Wagner.

The first famous American baritone appeared in the 1900s. It was the American-born but Paris-based Charles W. Clark who sang Italian, French and German composers. An outstanding group of virile-voiced American baritones appeared then in the 1920s. The younger members of this group were still active as recently as the late 1970s. Outstanding among its members were the Met-based Verdians Lawrence Tibbett (a compelling, rich-voiced singing actor), Richard Bonelli, John Charles Thomas, Robert Weede, Leonard Warren and Robert Merrill. They sang French opera, too, as did the American-born but also Paris-based baritone of the 1920s, and '30s Arthur Endreze.
Also to be found singing Verdi roles at the Met, Covent Garden and the Vienna Opera during the late 1930s and the 1940s was the big-voiced Hungarian baritone, Sandor (Alexander) Sved.
The leading Verdi baritones of the 1970s and '80s were probably Italy's Renato Bruson and Piero Cappuccilli, America's Sherrill Milnes, Sweden's Ingvar Wixell and the Romanian baritone Nicolae Herlea. At the same time, Britain's Sir Thomas Allen was considered to be the most versatile baritone of his generation in regards to repertoire, which ranged from Mozart to Verdi and lighter Wagner roles, through French and Russian opera, to modern English music. Another British baritone, Norman Bailey, established himself internationally as a memorable Wotan and Hans Sachs. He had, however, a distinguished if lighter-voiced Wagnerian rival during the 1960s and 1970s in the person of Thomas Stewart of America. Other notable post-War Wagnerian baritones have been Canada's George London, Germany's Hermann Uhde and, more recently, America's James Morris.

Among the late-20th-century baritones noted throughout the opera world for their Verdi performances was Vladimir Chernov, who emerged from the former USSR to sing at the Met. Chernov followed in the footsteps of such richly endowed East European baritones as Ippolit Pryanishnikov (a favorite of Tchaikovski's), Joachim Tartakov (an Everardi pupil), Oskar Kamionsky (an exceptional bel canto singer nicknamed the "Russian Battistini"), Waclaw Brzezinski (known as the "Polish Battistini"), Georges Baklanoff (a powerful singing actor), and, during a career lasting from 1935 to 1966, the Bolshoi's Pavel Lisitsian. Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Sergei Leiferkus are two Russian baritones of the modern era who appear regularly in the West. Like Lisitsian, they sing Verdi and the works of their native composers, including Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin and The Queen of Spades.
In the realm of French song, the bass-baritone José van Dam and the lighter-voiced Gérard Souzay have been notable. Souzay's repertoire extended from the Baroque works of Jean-Baptiste Lully to 20th-century composers such as Francis Poulenc. Pierre Bernac, Souzay's teacher, was an interpreter of Poulenc's songs in the previous generation. Older baritones identified with this style include France's Dinh Gilly and Charles Panzéra and Australia's John Brownlee. Another Australian, Peter Dawson, made a small but precious legacy of benchmark Handel recordings during the 1920s and 1930s. (Dawson, incidentally, acquired his outstanding Handelian technique from Sir Charles Santley.) Yet another Australian baritone of distinction between the wars was Harold Williams, who was based in the United Kingdom. Important British-born baritones of the 1930s and 1940s were Dennis Noble, who sang Italian and English operatic roles, and the Mozartian Roy Henderson. Both appeared often at Covent Garden.

Prior to World War II, Germany's Heinrich Schlusnus, Gerhard Hüsch and Herbert Janssen were celebrated for their beautifully sung lieder recitals as well as for their mellifluous operatic performances in Verdi, Mozart, and Wagner respectively. After the war's conclusion, Hermann Prey and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau appeared on the scene to take their place. In addition to his interpretations of lieder and the works of Mozart, Prey sang in Strauss operas and tackled lighter Wagner roles such as Wolfram. Fischer-Dieskau sang parts in 'fringe' operas by the likes of Ferruccio Busoni and Paul Hindemith as well as appearing in standard works by Verdi and Wagner. He earned his principal renown, however, as a lieder singer. Talented German and Austrian lieder singers of a younger generation include Olaf Bär, Matthias Goerne, Wolfgang Holzmair (who also performs regularly in opera), Thomas Quasthoff, Stephan Genz and Christian Gerhaher. Well-known non-Germanic baritones of recent times have included the Italians Giorgio Zancanaro and Leo Nucci, the Frenchman François le Roux, the Canadian Gerald Finley and James Westman and the versatile American Thomas Hampson, his compatriot Nathan Gunn and the Englishman Simon Keenlyside.



Classification

The operatic baritone voice type is classified according to vocal range and weight into the following subtypes.



Bariton/Baryton-Martin

Common Range: From the low C to the B above middle C (C3 to B4)
Description: The Baryton-Martin (sometimes referred to as Light Baritone) lacks the lower G2–B2 range a heavier baritone is capable of, and has a lighter, almost tenor-like quality. Generally seen only in French repertoire, this fach was named after the French singer Jean-Blaise Martin. Associated with the rise of the baritone in the 19th century, Martin was well known for his fondness for falsetto singing, and the designation 'Baryton Martin' has been used (Faure, 1886) to separate his voice from the 'Verdi Baritone', which carried the chest register further into the upper range. It is important to note that this voice type shares the primo passaggio and secondo passaggio with the Dramatic Tenor and Heldentenor (C4 and F4 respectively), and hence could be trained as a tenor.

Roles:
Pelléas, Pelléas et Mélisande (Claude Debussy)
L'Horloge Comtoise, L'enfant et les sortilèges (Maurice Ravel)
Orfeo, L'Orfeo (Claudio Monteverdi)
Ramiro, L'heure espagnole (Maurice Ravel)
Aeneas, Dido and Aeneas (Henry Purcell)

Singers:
Pierre Bernac
Jacques Jansen
Camille Maurane
Jean Périer
Michel Dens




Lyric baritone

Common Range: From the A below low C to the B♭ or B above middle C (A2 to B♭4).
Description: A sweeter, milder sounding baritone voice, lacking in harshness; lighter and perhaps mellower than the dramatic baritone with a higher tessitura. It is typically assigned to comic roles.

Roles:
Count Almaviva, The Marriage of Figaro (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
Guglielmo, Così fan tutte (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
Don Giovanni, Don Giovanni (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
Papageno, The Magic Flute (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
Prospero, The Tempest (Thomas Adés)
Marcello, La bohème (Giacomo Puccini)
Figaro, The Barber of Seville (Gioachino Rossini)
Morales, Carmen (Georges Bizet)

Singers:
Sir Thomas Allen
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Frank Guarrera
Thomas Hampson
Simon Keenlyside
Robert Merrill
Hermann Prey
Gérard Souzay
Peter Mattei




The kavalierbariton

Common Range: From the A below low C to the G above middle C (A2 to G4).
Description: A metallic voice, that can sing both lyric and dramatic phrases, a manly noble baritonal color, with good looks. Not quite as powerful as the Verdi baritone who is expected to have a powerful appearance on stage, perhaps muscular or physically large.

Roles:
Don Giovanni, Don Giovanni (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
Count, Capriccio (Richard Strauss)
Giorgio Germont, La traviata (Giuseppe Verdi)

Singers:
Eberhard Wächter
Leo Nucci




Verdi baritone

Common Range: From the G below low C to the B4♭ above middle C (G2 to B♭4).
Description: A more specialized voice category and a subset of the Dramatic Baritone, a Verdi baritone refers to a voice capable of singing consistently and with ease in the highest part of the baritone range, sometimes extending up to the C above middle C, or "High C." The Verdi baritone will generally have a lot of squillo, or "ping"

Roles:
Amonasro, Aida
Carlo, Ernani
Conte di Luna, Il trovatore
Don Carlo di Vargas, La forza del destino
Falstaff, Falstaff
Ford, Falstaff
Germont, La traviata
Macbeth, Macbeth
Renato, Un ballo in maschera
Rigoletto, Rigoletto
Rodrigo, Don Carlos
Simon Boccanegra, Simon Boccanegra

Singers:
Carlos Álvarez
Ettore Bastianini
Renato Bruson
Piero Cappuccilli
Vladimir Chernov
Tito Gobbi
Nicolae Herlea
Cornell MacNeil
Sherrill Milnes
Titta Ruffo
Seymour Schwartzman
Leonard Warren
Ingvar Wixell
Giorgio Zancanaro
Željko Lučić




Dramatic baritone

Common Range: From the G half an octave below low C to the G above middle C (G2 to A4).
Description: A voice that is richer and fuller, and sometimes harsher, than a lyric baritone and with a darker quality. This category corresponds roughly to the Heldenbariton in the German fach system except that some Verdi baritone roles are not included. The primo passaggio and secondo passaggio of both the Verdi and Dramatic Baritone are at Bb and Eb respectively, hence the differentiation is based more heavily on timbre and tessitura. Accordingly, roles that fall into this category tend to have a slightly lower tessitura than typical Verdi baritone roles, only rising above an F at the moments of greatest intensity. Many of the Puccini roles fall into this category. However, it is important to note, that for all intents and purposes, a Verdi Baritone is simply a Dramatic Baritone with greater ease in the upper tessitura (Verdi Baritone roles center approximately a minor third higher). Because the Verdi Baritone is sometimes seen as subset of the Dramatic Baritone, some singers perform roles from both sets of repertoire. Similarly, the lower tessitura of these roles allow them frequently to be sung by bass-baritones.

Roles:
Jack Rance, La fanciulla del West (Giacomo Puccini)
Scarpia, Tosca (Giacomo Puccini)
Nabucco, Nabucco (Giuseppe Verdi)
Iago, Otello (Giuseppe Verdi)
Escamillo, Carmen (Georges Bizet)

Singers:
Norman Bailey
Peter Kajlinger
Sergei Leiferkus
Juan Pons




Lyric Low Baritone/Lyric Bass-baritone

Common Range: From about the F below low C to the F♯ above middle C (F2 to F#4)
Some bass-baritones are baritones, like Friedrich Schorr, George London, James Morris and Bryn Terfel. The following are more often done by lower baritones as opposed to high basses.

Roles:
Don Pizarro, Fidelio (Ludwig van Beethoven)
Golaud, Pelléas et Mélisande (Claude Debussy)
Méphistophélès, Faust (Charles Gounod)
Don Alfonso, Così fan tutte (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
Figaro, The Marriage of Figaro (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)

Singers:
Gerald Finley
Tom Krause
Luca Pisaroni
Thomas Quasthoff
Bryn Terfel




Dramatic Bass-baritone/Low Baritone/Heldenbariton

Common Range: From about the F below low C to the F♯ above middle C (F2 to F#4)

Roles:
Aleko, Aleko (Sergei Rachmaninoff)
Igor, Prince Igor (Alexander Borodin)
Dutchman, The Flying Dutchman by (Richard Wagner)
Hans Sachs, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Richard Wagner)
Wotan, Der Ring des Nibelungen (Richard Wagner)
Amfortas, Parsifal (Richard Wagner)

Singers:
Hans Hotter
George London
Friedrich Schorr
Thomas Stewart
Donald McIntyre
James Morris


Baryton-noble
Description: French for noble baritone and describes a part that requires a noble bearing, smooth vocalisation and forceful declamation, all in perfect balance. This category originated in the Paris Opera, but it greatly influenced Verdi (Don Carlo in Ernani and La forza del destino; Count Luna in Il trovatore; Simon Boccanegra) and Wagner as well (Wotan; Amfortas). Similar to the Kavalierbariton.

 
 
Simon Keenlyside
British b. 1959
Keenlyside became as famous at one time for his gleaming torso – naked or clad in black leather – on an opera house ad campaign as for his intensely realised stage roles. The one-time choir boy is an ideal Papageno, a searing Billy Budd, a formidable Posa, and ‘one of the most inspired Wozzecks ever’ for some. He won awards for creating the role of Prospero in Thomas Ades’s The Tempest. A passionately committed singer who has taken his career slowly but surely, admired for the fire and virility in his warm, clear baritone.

Listen to: Tales from the Opera/Sony 82876884822
Schumann: Dichterliebe/Brahms recital disc/Sony 88697566892

Gerald Finley
Canadian b. 1960
Finley is the baritone of choice for many composers: he’s created indelible roles in Mark Anthony Turnage’s The Silver Tassie, the love-lorn Jaufré in Saariaho’s L’amour de loin and made a tour de force of John Adams’s Dr Atomic with his tortured Robert Oppenheimer. He’s equally good in recital, as his fine collection of song discs on Hyperion shows; one is always aware of a penetrating intelligence at work; a singer for whom the text is pre-eminent. ‘Gerald Finley's Oppenheimer – ruthless in attack, pellucid in delivery – remains one of the truly great opera-house performances of the past decade'. Opera News

Listen to: Musorgsky, Tchaikovsky & Ives/Wigmore Hall Live WHLIVE0025
John Adams: Dr Atomic/Opus Arte OA0998D (DVD)

Matthias Goerne
German b. 1967
Goerne was a member of Dresden Opera and has played a memorable Wozzeck, but is mainly revered for his peerless Lieder singing. A pupil of the great Fischer-Dieskau, he has a uniquely rich and dark-hued voice and has brought new depths to Schwanegesang and Winterreise. ‘Few male singers, even Fischer-Dieskau, have such a rich palette of colours as Goerne does.’ Sunday Times

Listen to: Schubert: Schwanegesang with Alfred Brendel/Decca 475 6011
Schubert: Winterreise with Alfred Brendel/Decca 467 0922

Christian Gerhaher
German b. 1969
Another outstanding recitalist, Gerhaher’s Schumann disc Melancholie won the BBC Music Magazine’s Vocal Award last year. Exquisite diction and sheer beauty of sound, along with a dizzying range of articulation mark Gerhaher out. He was a ‘sensation’ as Papageno at Würzburg Opera and in the title role of Monteverdi’s Orfeo at Frankfurt. He shines in Harnoncourt’s recent recording of Haydn’s The Seasons. Expect to hear more from this modest Munich-based musician.

Listen to: Schumann: Melancholie/RCA 88697168172
Mozart: Die Zauberflöte/Vienna PO/Muti/Decca 073 4221 (part of 33 disc-set of operas)

Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Russian b. 1962
The glamorous, silver-haired Siberian was launched as a heart-throb following his 1989 Cardiff Singer of the World win. Years later, the Financial Times critic was warning women not to sit in the front row ‘in case they get their ears singed.’ In fact, Hvorostovsky is best in the brooding roles, an ideal Eugene Onegin, Simon Boccanegra, Giorgio Germont in La traviata and Prince Yeletsky in The Queen of Spades. His upper register has a tenor-like ring, his tone beautifully rounded and his breath control renowned. He regularly tours Russia to stadium-size audiences.

Listen to: Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin/Phillips 475 7017 (2 discs)
Heroes & Villains/Delos DE3365

Bryn Terfel
Welsh b. 1965
Terfel needs no introduction. He arrived with the Lieder prize in the 1989 Cardiff Singer of the World, and has won hearts with Welsh hymns, Broadway, Vaughan Williams, as a chilling Jochanaan in Salome, an ideal Flying Dutchman, and a deeply moving and uproarious Falstaff. But he can also do the really big stuff. Following John Tomlinson’s long and distinguished reign, Terfel is the new British Wotan. ‘One of the most important and charismatic singers performing today.’ Opera Magazine

Listen to:
Wagner: excerpts from Die Fliegande Hollander & Die Meistersinger etc/Deutsche Grammophon DG 471 3482
Vaughan Williams: Silent Noon/Deutsche Grammophon DG 477 5336

Audio clip: Schumann: 'Aus meine Tränen' from Dichterliebe

Homepage image credit: Harry Borden

 
 
 
 
 
Bass
 
A bass is a type of classical male singing voice and is the lowest vocal range of all voice types. According to The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, a bass is typically classified as having a vocal range extending from around the second E below middle C to the E above middle C (i.e., E2–E4). Its tessitura, or comfortable range, is normally defined by the outermost lines of the bass clef.
 
 
Variations in bass range

Range of bass voices according to the The Oxford Dictionary of Music. Middle C is highlighted in yellow.
The low extreme for basses is generally C2 (two Cs below middle C). However, several extreme bass singers, referred to as basso profondos and oktavists, are able to reach much lower than this.
Within opera, the lowest note in the standard bass repertoire is D2, sung by the character Osmin in Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail, but few roles fall below F2. Although Osmin's note is the lowest 'demanded' in the operatic repertoire, lower notes are heard, both written and unwritten: for example, it is traditional for basses to interpolate a low C in the duet "Ich gehe doch rathe ich dir" in the same opera; in Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier, Baron Ochs has an optional C2. The high extreme: a few bass roles in the standard repertoire call for a high F♯ or G (F♯4 and G4, the one above middle C), but few roles go over F4. In the operatic bass repertoire, the highest notes are a G♯4 (The Barber in The Nose by Shostakovich) and, in the aria "Fra l'ombre e gl'orrori" in Handel's cantata Aci, Galatea e Polifemo, Polifemo reaches an A4.

Cultural influence and individual variation create a wide variation in range and quality of bass singers. Parts for basses have included notes as low as the B-flat two octaves and a tone below middle C (B♭1), for example in Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2 and the Rachmaninov Vespers, A below that in Frederik Magle's symphonic suite Cantabile, G below that (e.g. Measure 76 of Ne otverzhi mene by Pavel Chesnokov) or F below those in Kheruvimskaya pesn (Song of Cherubim) by Krzysztof Penderecki. Many basso profondos have trouble reaching those notes, and the use of them in works by Slavic composers has led to the colloquial term "Russian bass" for an exceptionally deep-ranged basso profondo who can easily sing these notes. Some traditional Russian religious music calls for A2 (110 Hz) drone singing, which is doubled by A1 (55 Hz) in the rare occasion that a choir includes exceptionally gifted singers who can produce this very low human voice pitch.
Many British composers such as Benjamin Britten have written parts for bass (such as the first movement of his choral work Rejoice in the Lamb) that center far higher than the bass tessitura as implied by the clef. The Harvard Dictionary of Music defines the range as being from the E below low C to middle C (i.e. E2–C4).
In choral music, voices are subdivided into first bass and second bass, no distinction being made between bass and baritone voices, in contrast to the three-fold (tenor–baritone–bass) categorization of solo voices. The exception is in arrangements for male choir (TTBB) and barbershop quartets (TLBB), which sometimes label the lowest two parts baritone and bass.



Bass roles in opera

In classical music, and particularly in opera, the following distinctions are often made among different kinds of bass voices:

Basso cantante/lyric high bass/lyric bass-baritone

Basso cantante means "singing bass". Basso cantante is a higher, more lyrical voice. It is produced using a more Italianate vocal production, and possesses a faster vibrato, than its closest Germanic/Anglo-Saxon equivalent, the bass-baritone.

Max, Le chalet by Adolphe Adam
Duke Bluebeard Bluebeard's Castle by Béla Bartók
Don Pizarro, Fidelio by Ludwig van Beethoven
Count Rodolfo, La sonnambula by Bellini
Blitch, Susannah by Carlisle Floyd
Méphistophélès, Faust by Charles Gounod
The King of Scotland, Ariodante by George Frideric Handel
Don Alfonso, Così fan tutte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Don Giovanni, Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Figaro, The Marriage of Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
The Voice of the Oracle, Idomeneo by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Boris, Boris Godunov by Modest Mussorgsky
Silva, Ernani by Giuseppe Verdi
Philip II, Don Carlos by Giuseppe Verdi
Count Walter, Luisa Miller by Giuseppe Verdi
Ferrando, Il trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi
Daland, Der fliegende Holländer by Richard Wagner



Hoher Bass/dramatic high bass/dramatic bass-baritone

Hoher Bass or "high bass" or often a dramatic bass-baritone.
Igor, Prince Igor by Alexander Borodin
Boris, and Varlaam, Boris Godunov by Modest Mussorgsky
Klingsor, Parsifal by Richard Wagner
Wotan Der Ring des Nibelungen by Richard Wagner
Caspar, Der Freischütz by Carl Maria von Weber
Banquo, Macbeth by Giuseppe Verdi
Zaccaria, Nabucco by Giuseppe Verdi
Fiesco, Simon Boccanegra by Giuseppe Verdi



Jugendlicher Bass

Jugendlicher Bass (Juvenile Bass) denotes the role of a young man sung by a bass, regardless of the age of the singer.
Leporello, Masetto, Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Colline, La bohème (Giacomo Puccini)



Basso buffo/bel canto/lyric buffo

Buffo, literally "funny", basses are lyrical roles that demand from their practitioners a solid coloratura technique, a capacity for patter singing and ripe tonal qualities if they are to be brought off to maximum effect. They are usually the blustering antagonist of the hero/heroine or the comic-relief fool in bel canto operas.
Don Pasquale, Don Pasquale (Gaetano Donizetti)
Dottor Dulcamara, L'elisir d'amore by Gaetano Donizetti
Doctor Bartolo, The Barber of Seville by Gioachino Rossini
Don Magnifico, La Cenerentola by Gioachino Rossini
Don Alfonso, Così fan tutte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Leporello, Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
The Doctor, Wozzeck by Alban Berg



Schwerer Spielbass/dramatic buffo

English equivalent: dramatic bass
Khan Konchak, Prince Igor by Alexander Borodin
Baculus, Der Wildschütz (Albert Lortzing)
Ferrando, Il trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi
Daland, Der fliegende Holländer by Richard Wagner



Lyric basso profondo

Basso profondo (lyric low bass) is the lowest bass voice type. According to J. B. Steane in Voices, Singers & Critics, the basso profondo voice "derives from a method of tone-production that eliminates the more Italian quick vibrato. In its place is a kind of tonal solidity, a wall-like front, which may nevertheless prove susceptible to the other kind of vibrato, the slow beat or dreaded wobble."
Rocco, Fidelio by Ludwig van Beethoven
Osmin, Die Entführung aus dem Serail by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Sarastro, Die Zauberflöte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Pimen, Boris Godunov by Modest Mussorgsky
Baron Ochs, Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss
Baldassarre, La favorite by Gaetano Donizetti



Dramatic basso profondo

English equivalent: dramatic low bass. Dramatic basso profondo is a powerful basso profondo voice.
Il Commendatore, Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Hagen, Götterdämmerung by Richard Wagner
Heinrich, Lohengrin by Richard Wagner
Gurnemanz, Parsifal by Richard Wagner
Fafner, Das Rheingold and Siegfried by Richard Wagner
Marke, Tristan und Isolde by Richard Wagner
Hunding, Die Walküre by Richard Wagner
The Varangian (Viking) Guest, Sadko by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
The Grand Inquisitor, Don Carlo by Giuseppe Verdi
Claggart, Billy Budd (opera) by Benjamin Britten



Bass roles in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas

The Mikado of Japan (The Mikado)
Sergeant of Police (The Pirates of Penzance)
Adam Goodheart (Ruddigore)
Private Willis (Iolanthe)
Carpenter's mate (H.M.S. Pinafore)
Don Alhambra (The Gondoliers)
The Notary (The Sorcerer)

 
 
 
 
     
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