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Spinto Voices - All Voice type Definitions

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TMV World Team

I have decided to copy and paste Wikipedia definition of " SPINTO". I have had many people online and in this forum write. Telling me they are Spinto, upon listening to their voice sample however. It becomes clear they mis-understand what Spinto is. I have also had a few suggest I'm not a Spinto which indeed I am. They seem to confuse Tenore Leggerio with Tenore de forci.

I am merely copying and posting this definition as I find it accurate and well worded. Some have suggested my voice is heavy for Tenor, It is proper for my Tenor type. I am going to organize full discription of voice types and add them to this post ASAP. I think it is Important for people to know their proper voice type. This in no way is indicative of range although the voices cover and change register usually one third higher, hence Baritone a third higher then Bass, Tenor a third higher then Baritone. The same is true of female Mezzo a third above Contralto, Soprano a third above Mezzo Soprano. There are voices which will fall in between. For those voices it is wise to train in the voice type closest to your natural register changes. Properly trained however every healthy voice can master the three main registers and many the forth that upper whistle register. However lower voices will not print( that is sound the same in those registers) when fully supported and properly articulated.

"Spinto (from Italian, "pushed") is a vocal term used to characterize a soprano or tenor voice of a weight between lyric and dramatic that is capable of handling large dramatic climaxes at moderate intervals. Sometimes the terms lirico-spinto or jugendlich-dramatisch are used. This voice type is recognized by its "slice", allowing the singer to be heard over a full Romantic orchestra in roles excluding, in particular, the most taxing of the Verdi, Puccini and verismo parts, such as Otello.

Spinto soprano: a lyric soprano with a fair amount of "pulp". As they have both a lyric and a dramatic quality, spinto sopranos are suitable for wide range of roles, from lyric roles such as Micaela in Carmen and Mim in La Bohame to Verdi heroines like Leonora (in Il Trovatore or La forza del destino), Aida or Puccini's Madame Butterfly.

Tenore spinto: the tenor equivalent of the above. They can sing roles like Rodolfo in La Bohame and Alfredo in La Traviata all the way up to Mario Cavaradossi in Tosca and Radames in Aïda. The tenor lead in Leoncavallo's Pagliacci is another well-known example of a spinto part.

Rosalind Plowright defines a spinto voice as one that has a tonal colour one down from its range. For example, a voice with a mezzo's tone colour and the high notes of a soprano, or a voice with a tenor range and a baritone's tone colour, is a spinto. She names Placido Domingo as an instance of the latter.[1] Plowright's generalisation does not hold true for all spinto tenors, however. Giovanni Martinelli, Giacomo Lauri-Volpi and Jussi Bjrling, for instance, sang spinto roles such as Radames with bright-toned voices that lacked any baritonal colouration."

LIST:

COLORATURA

Coloratura has several meanings. The word derives from the Italian colorare (to colour; to heighten; to enliven) or colorazione (colouring, coloration).

Its most well-known meaning is applied to voice type - i.e., the coloratura soprano, most famously typified by the role of Queen of the Night in Mozart's Die Zauberflate.[1] This type of soprano has a high range and can execute with great facility the style of singing that includes elaborate ornamentation and embellishment, including running passages, staccati, and trills.

Other female and male voice types may also be masters of coloratura technique, but the term coloratura when used without further qualification means soprano coloratura. Richard Miller names two types of soprano coloratura voices (the coloratura and the dramatic coloratura)[2] as well as a mezzo-soprano coloratura voice[3], and although he does not mention the coloratura contralto, he includes mention of specific works requiring coloratura technique for the contralto voice.[4]

For Males the Term COLORATURO is more likely applied.

SOPRANO

A soprano is a singing voice with a vocal range (using scientific pitch notation, where middle C = C4) from approximately (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.[1] 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. It should be noted that 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.[2] The singer Michael Maniaci is the only known man who can refer to himself as a true male soprano because he is able to sing in the soprano vocal range using the modal voice like a woman would. He is able to do this because his larynx never fully developed like a man's voice does during puberty.

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 larynxes had been fixed in a pre-adolescent state through the process of castration.[4]

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.

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 B3 or A3 (just below middle C). Often low notes in higher voices 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). Rarely is a soprano simply unable to sing a low note in a song within a soprano role.

The high extreme: at a minimum, non-coloratura sopranos have to reach "soprano C" (C6, two octaves above middle C), and many roles in the standard repertoire call for D6 or D-flat6. A couple of roles have optional E-flat's, as well. In the coloratura repertoire several roles call for E-flat6 on up to F6. In rare cases, some coloratura roles go as high as G6 or A6 such as the concert aria Popoli di Tessaglia or the role of Europa in Antonio Salieri's Europa riconosciuta. 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. Lyric 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.[2] To hear an example of a Lyric coloratura soprano.

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 middle C (C4) 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 their entire career.[1] 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 an 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 middle C (C4) to "high D" (D6).[6] 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 qaulity

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 middle C (C4) to "high D" (D6).

Dramatic soprano

A dramatic soprano 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 middle C (C4) to "high D" (D6).

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.

TENOR

Within Choral and pop music, singers are classified into voice parts based almost solely on 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 vocal range (the lowest and highest notes that the singer can reach), 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 facher, 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.) The categories are:

Leggiero tenor

The male equivalent of a lyric coloratura, this voice is light and very agile and is able to perform dextrous coloratura passages. The Leggiero tenor has a range of approximately the C one octave below middle C (C3) to the Eâ™­ above tenor C (Eâ™­ 5) with some leggiero tenors being able to sing up to the F or even Gâ™­. This voice is the highest tenor voice and is sometimes referred to as "tenore di grazia". This voice is utilized frequently in the operas of Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini, and the highest Baroque repertoire for tenors. Leggiero tenors also frequently perform roles in the light-lyric tenor repertoire.

Leggiero tenor roles in opera and operettas:

Count Almaviva, The Barber of Seville (Rossini)

Arturo, I puritani (Bellini)

Belmonte, The Abduction from the Seraglio (Mozart)

Elvino, La sonnambula (Bellini)

Ernesto, Don Pasquale (Donizetti)

Ferrando, Così fan tutte (Mozart)

Gualtiero, Il pirata (Bellini)

Lindoro, L'italiana in Algeri (Rossini)

Nemorino, L'elisir d'amore (Donizetti)

Don Ottavio, Don Giovanni (Mozart)

Don Ramiro, La Cenerentola (Rossini)

Tonio, La fille du régiment (Donizetti)

Leggiero tenor singers:

John Aler

Luigi Alva

Rockwell Blake

Alessandro Bonci

Juan Diego Flarez

Alfredo Kraus

William Matteuzzi

Chris Merritt

Tito Schipa

Ferruccio Tagliavini

Fritz Wunderlich

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). Lyric tenors can be divided into two groups:

Light lyric tenor A light-lyric tenor has a slightly warmer sound than the Leggiero tenor and some coloratura facility but does not have quite as high of an upper extension as the leggiero tenor. This voice is used frequently within French comic operas.

Full lyric tenor  A full-lyric tenor that has a more mature sound than a light-lyric tenor and can be heard over a bigger orchestra.

Light-lyric tenor roles in opera and operettas:

Chapelou, Le postillon de Lonjumeau (Adolphe Adam)

George Brown, La dame blanche (Francois-Adrien Boaeldieu)

Gerald, Lakme (Delibes)

Le Prince Charmant Cendrillon (Pauline Viardot)

Nadir, Les pacheurs de perles (Bizet)

Vincent, Mireille (Gounod)

Full-lyric tenor roles in opera and operettas:

Alfredo, La traviata (Verdi)

Chevalier, Dialogues des Carmelites (Poulenc)

David, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg (Wagner)

Duke of Mantua, Rigoletto (Verdi)

Edgardo, Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti)

Elvino, La sonnambula (Bellini)

Faust, Faust (Gounod)

Hoffman, The Tales of Hoffman (Offenbach)

Idomeneo, Idomeneo (Mozart)

Le Prince Charmant, Cendrillon (Massenet) (when performed by a tenor, originally written for soprano)

Rodolfo, La bohème (Puccini)

Romeo, Romeo et Juliette (Gounod)

Tamino, Die Zauberflute (Mozart)

Werther, Werther (Jules Massenet)

Wilhelm Meister, Mignon (Ambroise Thomas)

Lurcanio, "Ariodante" Handel

Lyric tenor singers:

Roberto Alagna

Marcelo �lvarez

Giacomo Aragall

Jussi Burling

Joseph Calleja

Jose Carreras

Richard Crooks

Giuseppe Di Stefano

Salvatore Fisichella

Miguel Fleta

Beniamino Gigli

Nicolai Gedda

John McCormack

Luciano Pavarotti

Alfred Piccaver

Dmitri Smirnov

Leonid Sobinov

Richard Tauber

Joseph Schmidt

Alain Vanzo

Rolando Villazan

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 without strain. (They are also known as "lyric-dramatic" tenors.) Some spinto tenors may have a somewhat darker timbre than a lyric tenor as well, without being as dark as a dramatic tenor. Spinto tenors have a range from approximately the C one octave below middle C (C3) to the D one octave above middle C (D5).[2]

Spinto tenor roles in opera and operettas:[2]

Alvaro, La forza del destino (Verdi)

Andrea Chenier, Andrea Chenier (Umberto Giordano)

Canio, Pagliacci (Leoncavallo)

Don Carlos, Don Carlos (Verdi)

Don Jose, Carmen (Bizet)

Erik, Der fliegende Holländer (Wagner)

Ernani, Ernani (Verdi)

Manrico, Il trovatore (Verdi)

Mario Cavaradossi, Tosca (Puccini)

Maurizio, Adriana Lecouvreur (Cilea)

Pinkerton, Madama Butterfly (Puccini)

Riccardo, Un ballo in maschera (Verdi)

Turiddu, Cavalleria rusticana (Pietro Mascagni)

Spinto tenor singers:

Carlo Bergonzi

Donald Braswell II

Enrico Caruso

Antonio Cortis

Charles Dalmores

Giacomo Lauri-Volpi

Francesco Merli

Aureliano Pertile

Giovanni Martinelli

Helge Roswaenge

Harry Theyard

Georges Thill

Richard Tucker

Dramatic tenor

Also "tenore di forza" or "robusto" a ringing and very powerful, clarion heroic tenor. The dramatic tenor has an approximate range from the C one octave below middle C (C3) to the C one octave above middle C (C5).[2]

Dramatic tenor roles in opera and operettas:[2]

Calaf, Turandot (Puccini)

Otello, Otello (Verdi)

Radames, Aida (Verdi)

Rodolfo, Luisa Miller (Verdi)

Samson, Samson et Dalila (Saint-Sans)

Dramatic tenor singers:

Franco Bonisolli

Franco Corelli

Carlo Cossutta

Jose Cura

Mario del Monaco

Jean de Reszke

Placido Domingo

Giuseppe Giacomini

Ramon Vinay

Francesco Vinas

Franz Volker

Ivan Yershov

Giovanni Zenatello

Heldentenor

A rich, dark-toned, 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 any heldentenor's repertoire is arguably Wagner's Siegfried, an extremely demanding role requiring a wide vocal range, great stamina, and extended dramatic suspension. The Heldentenor has an approximate range from the C one octave below middle C (C3) to the C one octave above middle C (C5).

Heldentenor roles in opera and operettas:

Florestan, Fidelio (Beethoven)

Tannhäuser, Tannhuser (Wagner)

Loge, Das Rheingold (Wagner)

Lohengrin, Lohengrin (Wagner)

Parsifal, Parsifal (Wagner)

Siegfried, Gutterdmmerung (Wagner)

Siegfried, Siegfried (Wagner)

Siegmund, Die Walkare (Wagner)

Walter von Stolzing, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg (Wagner)

Tristan, Tristan und Isolde (Wagner)

Heldentenor singers:

Bernd Aldenhoff

Richard Cassilly

James King

Heinrich Knote

Ernst Kraus

Lauritz Melchior

Albert Niemann

Ticho Parly

Ludwig Suthaus

Set Svanholm

Josef Tichatschek

Jacques Urlus

Jon Vickers

Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld

Wolfgang Windgassen

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.

Tenor buffo roles in opera and operettas:

Don Basilio, The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart)

Mime, Siegfried (Wagner)

Don Anchise/ Il Podesta , La finta giardiniera (Mozart)

Monostatos, The Magic Flute (Mozart)

Pedrillo, The Abduction from the Seraglio (Mozart)

Examples

Fucher Singer Role Composer Opera Example on

YouTube

Leggiero tenor Juan Diego Florez Tonio Donizetti La fille du ragiment link

Light lyric tenor Alain Vanzo Nadir Georges Bizet Les pcheurs de perles link

Full lyric tenor Salvatore Fisichella Rodolfo Puccini La bohame link

Spinto tenor Mario Lanza Canio Leoncavallo Pagliacci link

Dramatic tenor Franco Corelli Radames Verdi Aida link

Heldentenor Lauritz Melchior Lohengrin Wagner Lohengrin link

Tenor buffo Norbert Orth Monostatos Mozart The Magic Flute

NOTE IN REGARDS TO CROSSOVERS- You will notice some like Caruso, Corelli etc are classified in more the one voice type I.E- Dramatic ,Lyric Tenor Robusto. This is because many voices have greater dynamics then type specific and/or they upgrade/down grade with normal shifts in the voice at various ages. The typing is more a standard for role naming and what voice requirements are held for specific roles.

MEZZO - SOPRANO

A mezzo-soprano (meaning "medium" or "middle" "soprano" in Italian) is a type of classical female singing voice whose range lies between the soprano and the contralto singing voices, usually extending 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 G below middle C (G3) and as high as "high C" (C6).While 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 mezzo-soprano range was also called a mezzo-soprano castrato or mezzista. Today, however, only women should be referred to as mezzo-sopranos, and men singing within the female range should be called countertenors.

Mezzo-sopranos typically sing secondary roles in operas, with the protagonist in Bizet's Carmen and Rosina in Rossini's Barber of Seville as the most notable exceptions. Typical roles for mezzo-sopranos include witches, nurses, and wise women such as Azucena in Verdi's Il trovatore; trouser role (male characters played by female singers) such as Cherubino in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro; and villains and seductresses such as Amneris in Verdi's Aida. Mezzo-sopranos are also 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 Mozart's Don Giovanni. Mezzos also 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.

In general mezzos are broken down into three categories: Coloratura mezzo-sopranos, Lyric mezzo-soprano, and Dramatic mezzo-sopranos.

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 (G3) below middle C 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.[1] 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) -- trouser role)@

Griselda, Griselda (Vivaldi)@

Isabella, The Italian Girl in Algiers (Rossini)@

Orsini, Lucrezia Borgia (Gaetano Donizetti)

Romeo, I Capuleti e i Montecchi (Vincenzo Bellini) -- trouser role @

Rosina, The Barber of Seville (Rossini)@

Julius Caesar, Giulio Cesare (Handel) -- trouser role@

@-denotes a lead role

Coloratura mezzo-soprano singers

Cecilia Bartoli

Teresa Berganza

Joyce DiDonato

Gail Dubinbaum

Vivica Genaux

Marilyn Horne

Vesselina Kasarova

Giulietta Simionato

Conchita Supervía

Lucia Valentini Terrani

Lyric mezzo-soprano

The Lyric mezzo-soprano has a range from approximately the G below middle C to the B two octaves above middle C.[1] 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)-- trouser role

Arianna Arianna (Claudio Monteverdi)@

Carmen Carmen (Georges Bizet)@ (Also Dramatic Mezzo-Soprano)

Charlotte, Werther (Massenet)@

Cherubino, The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart)-- trouser role

The Composer Ariadne auf Naxos (Richard Strauss)-- trouser role

Sorceress, Dido and Aeneas (Henry Purcell)

Dorabella, Cosi fan tutte (Mozart)@

Hänsel, Hänsel und Gretel (Humperdinck) -- trouser role @

Mignon, Mignon (Ambroise Thomas)@

Mother, Amahl and the Night Visitors (Menotti)@

Nicklausse, Les contes d'Hoffmann (Offenbach) -- trouser role though he is the (female) Muse in disguise.

Octavian, Der Rosenkavalier (Richard Strauss) -- trouser role}@

Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus) (Johann Strauss) -- trouser role

Sesto, La clemenza di Tito (Mozart) -- trouser role

Siebel, Faust (Charles Gounod) -- trouser role

Stephano, Romeo et Juliette (Charles Gounod) -- trouser role

Suzuki, Madama Butterfly

@-Denotes a lead role

Lyric mezzo-soprano Singers

Janet Baker

Agnes Baltsa

Sarah Connolly

Malena Ernman

Brigitte Fassbaender

Susan Graham

Magdalena Koen

Lorraine Hunt Lieberson

Christa Ludwig

Nan Merriman

Frederica von Stade

Risa Stevens

Tatiana Troyanos

Anne Sofie von Otter

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 G below middle C to the B two octaves above middle C.[1] 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 Strauss. Like Coloratura mezzos, dramatic mezzos are also often cast in lyric mezzo-soprano roles.[4]

To hear an example of a dramatic mezzo-soprano (Olga Borodina as Eboli in Don Carlos)

Dramatic mezzo-soprano roles in opera and operettas

Azucena, Il trovatore (Verdi)

Amneris, Aida (Verdi)

Brangune, Tristan und Isolde (Wagner)

Carmen, Carmen (Bizet)@ (Also Lyric Mezzo)

The Countess, The Queen of Spades (Tchaikovsky)

Dalila, Samson et Dalila (Saint-Saëns)@

Dido, Les Troyens (Berlioz)@

Eboli, Don Carlos (Verdi)

Herodias, Salome (Richard Strauss)

Hexe, Hänsel und Gretel (opera) (Humperdinck)

Judith, Bluebeard's Castle (Bartak)@ (Also Dramatic Soprano)

Kundry, Parsifal (Wagner)@ (also Dramatic soprano)

Klytemnastra , Elektra (Richard Strauss)

Laura, La Gioconda (Ponchielli)

Marina, Boris Godunov (Mussorgsky)

Mother, Hänsel und Gretel (opera) (Humperdinck)

Ortrud, Lohengrin (Wagner)

Princess de Bouillon, Adriana Lecouvreur (Cilea)

@-denotes a lead role

Dramatic mezzo-soprano Singers

Irina Arkhipova

Fedora Barbieri

Olga Borodina

Grace Bumbry

Viorica Cortez

Fiorenza Cossotto

Maria Gay

Rita Gorr

Denyce Graves

Waltraud Meier

Elena Obraztsova

Regina Resnik

Giulietta Simionato

Ebe Stignani

Shirley Verrett

Dolora Zajick

BARITONE

Bariton/Baryton-Martin

Common Range: From the low C to the Ab above middle C (C3 to A­4)[7]

Description: The Baryton-Martin lacks the lower G2-B2 range a heavier baritone is capable of. 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.

Roles:

Pellas, Pellas et Melisande (Claude Debussy)

L'Horloge Comtoise, L'enfant et les sortilèges (Maurice Ravel)

Orfeo, L'Orfeo (Claudio Monteverdi)

Ramiro, L'heure espagnole (Maurice Ravel)

Singers:

Jean Perier

Pierre Bernac

Wolfgang Holzmair

Jacques Jansen

Simon Keenlyside

Camille Maurane

Richard Stilwell

Bel Canto (coloratura) baritone

Common Range: From the B below low C to the G above middle C (B2 to G4)

Description: The sound is more or less the same as the lyric baritone voice, but must be considerably agile to sing fioritura and coloratura passages. They are usually the comic relief in Bel Canto operas.

Roles:

Figaro, The Barber of Seville (Gioachino Rossini)

Dandini, La Cenerentola (Gioachino Rossini)

Belcore, L'elisir d'amore (Gaetano Donizetti)

Note: Its ambitus is greater than the lyric baritone's.

Lyric baritone

Common Range: From the B below low C to the G above middle C (B2 to G4).

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:

Conte Almaviva, The Marriage of Figaro (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)

Guglielmo, Cosa fan tutte (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)

Don Giovanni, Don Giovanni (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)

Papageno, The Magic Flute (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)

Marcello, La bohème (Giacomo Puccini)

Figaro, The Barber of Seville (Rossini)

The kavalierbariton

Common Range: From the A below low C to the G above middle C (A2 to G4).[9]

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)

Justin Labelle, Wakonda's Dream (Anthony Davis)

Tonio, Pagliacci (Ruggero Leoncavallo)

Count, Capriccio (Richard Strauss)

Germont in La traviata (Giuseppe Verdi)

Singers:

Eberhard Wächter

Dmitri Hvorostovsky

Verdi baritone

Common Range: From the A below low C to the G above middle C (A2 to G4).[9]

Description: A more specialized voice category, Verdi baritone refers to a voice capable of singing consistently and with ease in the highest part of the baritone range, sometimes extend it up to the C above middle C.

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:

Ettore Bastianini

Renato Bruson

Robert Merrill

Sherrill Milnes

Titta Ruffo

Leonard Warren

Carlos Alvarez

Dmitri Hvorostovsky

Dramatic baritone

Common Range: From the F half an octave below low C to the F above middle C (F2 to F4).[9]

Description: A voice that is richer and fuller than a lyric baritone and with a darker quality. This category corresponds roughly to the Heldenbariton in the German fach system except the Verdi baritones have been separated. Roles for this voice are also called bass-baritone and are typically dramatic in their tone. Roles such as these tend not 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.

Role

Jack Rance, La Fanciulla del West (Giacomo Puccini)

Scarpia, Tosca (Giacomo Puccini)

Nabucco, Nabucco (Giuseppe Verdi)

Iago, Otello (Giuseppe Verdi)

Escamillo, Carmen (Bizet)

Singers:

Norman Bailey

Tito Gobbi

Peter Kajlinger

Sergei Leiferkus

Lyric Low Baritone/Lyric Bass-baritone

Main article: Bass-baritone

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 by Ludwig van Beethoven

Golaud Pellaas et Melisande by Claude Debussy

Mephistopls, Faust by Charles Gounod

Don Alfonso, Cosafan tutte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Figaro, The Marriage of Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Singer:

Thomas Quasthoff

Bryn Terfel

Dramatic Bass-baritone/Low Baritone

Range: From about the G below low C to the F above middle C (G2 to F4)

Igor, Prince Igor by Alexander Borodin

Dutchman The Flying Dutchman by Richard Wagner

Hans Sachs Die Meistersinger by Richard Wagner

Wotan Der Ring des Nibelungen by Richard Wagner

Amfortas Parsifal by Richard Wagner

Examples:

George London

Hans Hotter

Friedrich Schorr

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 Opéra, 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).

CONTRALTO

In music, a contralto is a type of classical female singing voice with a vocal range somewhere between a tenor and a mezzo-soprano. The term is used to refer to the deepest female singing voice. The typical contralto range lies between the F below middle C (F3) to two Fs above middle C (F5). In the lower and upper extremes, some contralto voices can sing from the E below middle C (E3) to two Bâ™­s above middle C (Bâ™­5).The contralto voice has the lowest tessitura of the female voices and is noted for its rich and deep vocal timbre. 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.

The term contralto is not synonymous with the term alto which designates a specific part within choral music and is not a voice type. Technically, "alto" is only a separate category in choral music where it refers simply to the vocal range and does not consider factors like vocal tessitura, vocal timbre, vocal facility, and vocal weight.

Although both men and women may have voices in the contralto vocal range, the word is always used in the context of a female singer. Men singing in the contralto, mezzo-soprano, or soprano range are called countertenors.

Contraltos are fairly rare in opera, since there is very little work that was written specifically for them. Most of the time, contralto roles are limited to maids, mothers and grandmothers, but they do occasionally get notable roles, often playing female villains such as witches or playing male figures that were originally intended to be performed by castrato singers. "A common saying among contraltos is that they're only allowed to play 'witches', 'bitches', or 'britches'."

Contralto roles in operas

The following is a list of examples of contralto roles in the standard operatic repertoire

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)

Erda, Das Rheingold, Siegfried (Wagner)

Madame Flora, The Medium (Gian-Carlo Menotti)

Katisha, The Mikado (Gilbert and Sullivan)

Klytemnestra, Elektra (Strauss)*

Maddalena, Rigoletto (Verdi)*

Mama Lucia, Cavalleria Rusticana (Pietro Mascagni)

Malcolm, La donna del lago (Rossini)*

Mary, Der fliegende Holländer (Wagner)

Olga, Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky)*

Orfeo, Orfeo ed Euridice (Gluck) trouser role

Lel, The Snow Maiden (Rimsky-Korsakov)

Didone, Egisto (Cavalli)

Pauline, The Queen of Spades (Tchaikovsky)

La Principessa, Suor Angelica (Puccini)

Ruth The Pirates of Penzance (Gilbert and Sullivan)

Ulrica, Un ballo in maschera (Verdi)

Widow Begbick, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (Kurt Weill)

* : Indicates a role that may also be sung by a mezzo-soprano.

Notable contraltos

Classical and operatic contraltos are singers who have regularly performed unamplified classical or operatic music in concert halls and/or opera houses. Some of the most notable of all historic and contemporary contraltos include:

Marietta Alboni (1826-1894)

Marian Anderson (1897-1993)

Irina Arkhipova (1925-)

Eula Beal (1919-2008)

Marianne Brandt (1842-1921)

Muriel Brunskill (1899-1980)

Clara Butt (1872-1936)

Lili Chookasian (1921-)

Belle Cole (1845-1905)

Kathleen Ferrier (1912-1953)

Maureen Forrester (1930-)

Louise Homer (1871-1947)

Sigrid Onegin (1889-1943)

Ewa PodleÅ› (1952-)

Marie Powers (1902-1973)

Ernestine Schumann-Heink (1861-1936)

Annice Sidwells (1902-2001)

Nathalie Stutzmann (1965-)

Vittoria Tesi (1700-1775)

BASSO - BASS

A bass is a type of classical male singing voice and possesses the lowest vocal range of all voice types. According to The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, a bass is typically classified as having a range extending from around the F two octaves below middle C to the E above middle C (i.e., F2, E4), with a tessitura, or comfortable range, normally ranging between the outermost lines of the bass clef.

Basso Cantante/Lyric High Bass/Lyric Bass-baritone

Basso Cantante means 'singing bass'.[4] Basso cantante is a higher, more lyrical voice. It is produced by a more Italianate vocal production with a faster vibrato. A lyric bass-baritone.

Main article: Bass-baritone

for listings of baritone as well as bass roles.

Roles:

Duke Bluebeard Bluebeard's Castle by Bela Bartak

Don Pizarro, Fidelio by Ludwig van Beethoven

Count Rodolfo, La sonnambula by Bellini

Blitch, Susannah by Carlisle Floyd

Mephistophels, Faust by Charles Gounod

Don Alfonso, Cosa 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

Banquo, Macbeth by Giuseppe Verdi

Zaccaria, Nabucco by Giuseppe Verdi

Fiesco, Simon Boccanegra by Giuseppe Verdi

Ferrando, Il trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi

Daland, Der fliegende Holländer by Richard Wagner

The King of Scotland, "Ariodante" by G.F. Handel

Hoherbass/Dramatic High Bass/Dramatic Bass-baritone

Hoherbass or "high bass" is a dramatic bass-baritone.

Main article: Bass-baritone

for listings of baritone as well as bass roles.

Roles:

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 Freischatz by Carl Maria von Weber

Jugendlicher Bass

Jugendlicher Bass a young man (regardless of the age of the singer).

Roles:

Leporello, Masetto, Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Varlaam, Boris Godunov by Modest Mussorgsky

Colline, La bohame (Giacomo Puccini)

Basso Buffo/Bel Canto/Lyric Buffo

Buffo, literally "funny", basses are lyrical roles but demand a solid coloratura technique. They are usually the antagonist or the comic relief in Bel Canto operas.

Roles:

Don Pasquale, Don Pasquale (Gaetano Donizetti)

Dottor Dulcamara, L'elisir d'amore by Gaetano Donizetti

Don Bartolo, The Barber of Seville by Gioachino Rossini

Don Basilio, The Barber of Seville by Gioachino Rossini

Don Magnifico, La Cenerentola by Gioachino Rossini

Mephistophels, Faust by Charles Gounod

Don Alfonso, Così fan tutte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Leporello, Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Schwerer Spielbass/Dramatic Buffo

English equivalent: Dramatic comic bass

Roles::

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

English equivalent: lyric low bass

Basso profondo, 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».

Roles:

Rocco, Fidelio by Ludwig von Beethoven

Osmin, Die Entfhrung aus dem Serail by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Sarastro, Die Zauberflte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Pimen, Boris Godunov by Modest Mussorgsky

Baron Ochs, Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss

Dramatic Basso Profondo

English equivalent: Dramatic low bass. Dramatic Basso Profondo is a powerful basso profondo voice.

Roles:

Vladimir Yaroslavich, Prince Igor by Alexander Borodin

Hagen, Gutterdmmerung 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 Walkare by Richard Wagner

The Grand Inquisitor, Don Carlo by Giuseppe Verdi

Bass roles in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas

The Mikado of Japan (The Mikado)

Sergeant of Police (The Pirates of Penzance)

Old Adam Goodheart, and Sir Roderick (Ruddigore)

Private Willis (Iolanthe)

Carpenter's mate (HMS Pinafore)

Notary (The Sorcerer)

Sergeant Meryll of the Yeomen of the Guard (bass-baritone)(The Yeoman of the Guard)

Wilfred Shadbolt, Head Jailer and Assistant Tormentor (bass-baritone or baritone)(The Yeoman of the Guard)

Don Alhambra (Bass) (The Gondoliers)

Some prominent operatic basses

Norman Allin

Ivar Andresen

Feodor Chaliapin

Boris Christoff

Nazzareno De Angelis

Edouard de Reszke

Adam Didur

Gottlob Frick

Ferruccio Furlanetto

Nicolai Ghiaurov

Jerome Hines

Marcel Journet

Alexander Kipnis

Emanuel List

John Macurdy

Kurt Moll

Giulio Neri

Rena Pape

Tancredi Pasero

Ezio Pinza

Paul Plishka

Samuel Ramey

Lorenzo Regazzo

Mark Reizen

Leon Rothier

Matti Salminen

Cesare Siepi

Martti Talvela

John Tomlinson

Ludwig Weber

COUNTERTENOR

A countertenor is a male singing voice whose vocal range is equivalent to that of a contralto, mezzo-soprano or (less frequently) a soprano, usually through use of falsetto, or more rarely the normal or modal voice. A pre-pubescent male who has this ability is called a treble. This term is used exclusively in the context of the classical vocal tradition, although numerous popular music artists also prefer employing falsetto. The term first came into use in England during the mid 17th century and was in wide use by the late 17th century. 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 fourteenth and early fifteenth 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.[2] Later the term became obsolete: in Italy, contratenor altus became simply alto, 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 women keep silent in churches" - I Corinthians 14, verse 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, countertenors were much less prominent in 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.[3] In Italian opera, by the late seventeenth century, castrati predominated, though in France, the haute-contre remained the voice of choice for leading male roles, and this was also true to a considerable extent in English stage works of this period, for example, the roles of Secrecy and Summer in Purcell's The Fairy Queen (1692). 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 Bâ­4 (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"

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), and also took part in several of his oratorios, though countertenors also 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. They also sang the alto parts in Handel's choruses, and it was as choral singers within the Anglican church tradition that countertenors survived throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth 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), and Trinculo in Thomas Adès's The Tempest (2004).

Countertenors have also appeared in rock music, most notably Freddie Mercury and Roger Meddows-Taylor of Queen and Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria. Anthony Green of the band Circa Survive sings entirely in the contralto range without any use of falsetto.

A trained countertenor will typically have a vocal centre similar in placement to that of a contralto or mezzo-soprano. 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 G or A3 to E5 or perhaps F5. 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 Bâ™­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

The terms male soprano and male alto have been invariably used to refer to men who sing in the soprano or alto 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 but has not been universally embraced elsewhere, particularly within operatic vocal classification which prefers the terms countertenor or sopranist. Several vocal pedagogists have argued against the use of the terms male soprano and male alto because of the differences in the physiological processes of vocal production between female singers and countertenors. From this perspective, the singer Michael Maniaci is the only known man who could refer to himself as a true male soprano because he is able to sing in the soprano vocal range using the modal voice as a woman would. He is able to do this because his larynx never fully developed as a man's voice does during puberty.

Other authorities have the opposite view, preferring to restrict use of the term countertenor to singers employing little or no falsetto, equating it with haute-contre and the Italian term tenor altino. Russell Oberlin was himself a countertenor of this type, noted for his ability to sing alto and/or countertenor parts extending above C5 (the notorious "tenor high C" popularized by Italian opera) while still employing modal voice (many high tenors, particularly those who specialise in the bel canto repertoire of Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and their contemporaries can also do this, but generally use a more robust voice production). Some writers insist that this can only be accomplished physically by a man in possession of vocal cords considerably shorter than average, and that such a singer would therefore possess an unusually high speaking voice (a falsettist countertenor normally speaks as a baritone or bass). Like the haute-contre, these tenorial countertenors have a lower range and tessitura than their falsettist counterparts, perhaps from D3 to D5. Those authorities who hold that only non-falsettists are "real" countertenors would prefer the phrase "male alto" or "male soprano" for the more common falsettist type.

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