Lyric Opera 2018-2019 Issue 9 La Traviata

L Y R I C O P E R A O F C H I C A G O 16 | February 16 - March 22, 2019 Similarly, Mariah Carey has a tendency to access the extremes of her voice for musical effect; she has the tessitura of a mezzo, although the notes she can actually reach cover a five-octave range. In opera, Maria Callas makes an interesting comparison; onstage she played soprano roles in at least four different Fachs , yet her voice could also take on certain mezzo qualities and she did record one important mezzo role (Carmen). ese women’s vocal fame stems in large part from their ability to extend past their Fachs – their refusal to conform makes them doubly exciting to hear. e lowest male singer, the bass , is relatively scarce in pop music. Barry White is perhaps the most famous example, although he, like Cash, Elvis Presley, and Bing Crosby, is arguably a baritone with a strong lower range. e Italian-, French-, German-, and English-language vocal designations each have their own names for the bass subcategories, but they more or less reflect the same groups of singers. e basso buffo ( Spielbaß in German) is a comic singer and therefore must be able to act. ese singers should also possess enough technique to take on “patter” songs – fast-paced, rhythmic tongue-twisters, like “ e Major General s Song” in e Pirates of Penzance or Bartolo’s aria in e Barber of Seville . A somewhat less flexible voice with a wider range is the basso profondo ( Seriőser Baß in German); with rich low notes and little or no vibrato, these singers can be relied upon to play kings, priests, and old men. Former Pentatonix member Avi Kaplan is well known for his basso profondo qualities. Finally, on the opposite end of the vocal spectrum, sopranos rule the opera stage. ey’re the heroines, from ingénues to queens and goddesses. Experts agree on five predominant subcategories, although these voices can sometimes be divided even further. A soprano leggero (lit. “light soprano”) is the brightest, most bird-like variety, like the Fairy Godmother in Cendrillon or the Queen of the Night in e Magic Flute . is voice type is more often referred to as coloratura soprano , a nod to the florid music of which an instrument of this kind should be capable. Soubrette refers to both a type of singer and a type of role. Most frequently found in comic operas and operettas, soubrettes are usually supporting characters, like Dalinda in Ariodante . ey’re often mischievous girls, and are written specifically for a light, sweet-toned, uncomplicated voice, with a more compact range than the soprano leggero. Lyric sopranos are generally more mature in both their vocal and dramatic character than soubrettes. A great many lyric-soprano heroines Clockwise from bottom left: Okka von der Damerau as Erda in Das Rheingold , a role meant for dramatic contralto; and three contrasting pop contraltos – Adele, Shania Twain, and Tina Turner. PA WIRE TODD ROSENBERG CHARLIE SYKES/INVISION/AP KEYSTONE