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Soprano is ... High female singing voice

Desdemona and Salome, Shamahanskaya queen and Yaroslavna, Aida and Cio-chio-san, as well as many other operatic parts were written for soprano vocalists. This is the highest female singing voice, whose range is two to three octaves. However, it can be so different! Let's try to figure out how this tall woman's voice is in its peculiarities.

What are the female singing voices?

The main types of women's voices are:

  • contralto;
  • Mezzo-soprano;
  • soprano.

Their main difference is the range of sound, as well as the timbre coloration, which includes such properties as saturation, lightness and strength of voice, individual for each performer.

So, a soprano is a high voice with a range of sound of at least two octaves, from Do first to third.


In the traditions of the Russian music school, it is customary to distinguish the following three main types of soprano voices:

  • Coloratura;
  • Dramatic;
  • Lyrical.

In addition, there are two intermediate types of soprano - a lyric-coloratura and lyric-dramatic. Let's understand what is the difference between all these species.

A voice with "decorations"

This is how you can call the highest female voice - coloratura soprano. He got his name thanks to the ability to easily perform coloratura - special vocal decorations. An example of coloratura performance is Alyabyev's romance "The Nightingale", where they master the main theme of the work. Thanks to the coloratura soprano, such capricious and playful images appear on the stage as Zerlina in Mozart's Don Juan or Lyudmila from Glinka's Ruslan and Lyudmila. The extraordinary possibilities of this voice are often used to create fabulous and fantastic characters, such as the Swan Princess, the Snow Maiden and the Shamahanskaya queen in the operas of N.Rimsky-Korsakov or the Dolls from Hoffman's Tales by Jacques Offenbach. The disadvantage of this soprano voice is that the vocalists can not perform choral parts. The most vivid owners of such vocals are Diana Damrau, Christina Deitek, Cecilia Bartoli, Svetlana Feodulova, Olga Pudova.

The dramatic soprano

A very rare voice, highly valued in the music world, since the singer can perform almost any repertoire - from coloratura to mezzo-soprano. The voice is strong, "huge" in volume and richness of overtones, which allows him to easily make his way through the choir and orchestra. An unknowing person can easily confuse him with a mezzo-soprano. The downside of this beautiful and rich voice is that lyrical images and works are not obtained by all performers (due to the tragic coloring of the voice). You can hear dramatic soprano in such operatic parts:

  • Abigail from "Nabucco" by G. Verdi;
  • Aida and La Traviata from the same operas;
  • Yaroslavna from the "Prince Igor" Borodin and others.

This voice was amazing Maria Callas, as well as such famous operatic prima as Anita Cherkvetti, Astrid Varnay, Jesse Norman, Gena Dimitrova. Today, the dramatic soprano can be heard in the performance of Galina Gorchakova, Maria Guleghina, Anna Shafazhinskaya, Irina Gordei, Eva Marton, Leontin Price, Eva Genser.

Lyrical Soprano

This voice, which has a soft sound, is more compact and mobile than a dramatic soprano. They use a lyrical soprano in operatic parts, where it is necessary to show warmth, affection and tenderness, for example, in Natasha Rostova's party from Prokofiev's War and Peace or Tatiana Larina from Eugene Onegin by P. Tchaikovsky. This gentle timbre is possessed by Kiri Te Kanava, Tarja Turunen, Renee Fleming, Daniel DeNise, Amanda Rukroft, Kallen Esperian.

The lyrical coloratura soprano is a voice with a working range from the first to the third octave, characterized by the transparency of the timbre. Unlike coloratura, this soprano has a more dense sound, which can be heard in the party of the Tsarina Volhova from Sadko Rimsky-Korsakov or Antonina from Ivan Susanin by Glinka. The performers with this voice are given the roles of cheerful and playful young heroines, since dramatic "colors" are almost inaccessible to them and they express grief, pain, suffering or cruelty with lyrical means. Lyric-coloratura soprano was famous for Antonina Nezhdanova, Diana Petrinenko, Elizabeth Shumskaya, Galina Oleynichenko, Lyudmila Zlatova. Today Monserrat Caballe, Dilber Yunus, Elena Terentyeva, A. Solenkova are singing for this voice.

Lyric-dramatic soprano, depending on the personal data of the performer, can be both dramatic and lyrical. The images embodied on stage by singers with such voices are, as a rule, overwhelmed by passions and deep feelings. As a rule, these are young women or girls whose breadth of character can be shown by the powerful voice of the vocalist, as, for example, Kuma from "The Enchantress" by Tchaikovsky or Tamara from Rubinstein's "Demon". Quite rarely, the lyrical-dramatic soprano is used to create images of older women or character comic roles. This type of voice is enjoyed by Raina Kabaivanska, Galina Gorchakova, Teresa Stratas, Lydia Abramova and others.

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