Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 42

Thread: What is a "Dramatic Coloratura Soprano"

  1. #1
    Senior Member BalalaikaBoy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Posts
    1,107
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default What is a "Dramatic Coloratura Soprano"

    according to Wikipedia:
    "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)."

    imo, when people mean "dramatic coloratura soprano", they're usually referring to one of three types of voices

    1) a voice with a similar weight and color to a full lyric soprano, but capable of singing with great agility and hitting a few notes above high C (though the roles themselves are typically a bit "saucier" than a typical lyric role)
    singers: Mariella Devia, Montserrat Caballe, June Anderson
    roles: Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Konstanze (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Elisabetta (Maria Stuarda), Violetta (La Traviatta)

    2) a dramatic soprano or spinto soprano with greater than average agility, but who still sings in the tessitura of a dramatic or spinto soprano
    singers: Lilli Lehmann, Marisa Galvany, Julia Varady, Leyla Gencer
    roles: Abigaille (Nabucco), Lady Macbeth (Macbeth), Leonora (Il Trovatore), Odabella (Attila), Reiza (Oberon)

    3) a voice which sings in the tessitura of a lyric coloratura soprano, with same effortless top and spinning high notes, but with the ability to sing with much greater weight and drama. usually the timbre with be like a a lyric coloratura in the upper register, but like a brighter spinto or dramatic soprano in the middle range
    singers: Dame Joan Sutherland, Edda Moser, Rita Shane
    roles: Esclarmonde (Esclarmonde), Queen of the Night (The Magic Flute)


    thoughts?

  2. Likes Bellinilover liked this post
  3. #2
    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    11,622
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Way overly fussy, or to many declensions which are not necessary.

    Dramatic soprano, or "Dramatic," period:
    darker tone, perhaps "larger sounding,"* otherwise covers what a soprano does as well (plain soprano, brighter tone, maybe "smaller sounding." *
    * there are no implications of anything like actual greater vocal strength, amplitude, or even any real variance of the general tessiturae what is being characterized are all qualitative, not quantitative.

    Coloratura:
    again, may be applied to a singer within any Fach, is about a far greater than average ability to sing agilely and quickly, florid passage work, etc.
    So there's that taken care of.

    Lyric:
    (any range) is a notably non-strained ability to smoothly sing (without a audible shift of timbre or technique) within the named expected range as well as anywhere from an octave to an octave and a half above what is the more average range expected of soprano, alto, bass, tenor, etc.
    (Implies a bit of the coloratura quality, i.e. very fluid use of the voice throughout the range, and also can perform that somewhat at good speed.)

    Spinto:
    a darker 'smokier' timbre to the voice; again it may apply to any Fach.

    No reason to complicate things, Wiki.

    Edit add: Bellini Lover's post is also quite on the money, while it is more pointed toward the more conventional associations of types with their qualities (and what is written, and for whom). This would of course have coloratura sopranos associated with the higher and highest of sopranos, those almost always the smaller and lighter of sopranos, that making the ease of production on the higher and stratospheric passage work more readily possible. Dame Joan Sutherland was singular in that she had a very full (and large) soprano voice which she more than successfully cultivated to do (astonishing) coloratura singing. Jessye Norman, with a truly enormous voice, has so far defied one blanket categorization, debates still probably raging:-) Just beware of thinking of any of these types and descriptors as set in stone, the very reason I gave the most general definitions of those types and descriptors is they will serve you well, no matter what voice type you run across.)

    There are also dozens, literally, of more minutely specific names for any number of combinations of qualities for all of the Fachs, often those terms are in Italian.

    The more common the occurrence of an available voice type and qualities found together (none of them are average, in a way) those are the ones you will find composers most often anticipate when writing. There are many instances, though, of a composer writing specifically for a singer with particular or somewhat singular abilities, outside of a general type.
    Last edited by PetrB; Sep-28-2014 at 07:29.

  4. Likes Musicforawhile liked this post
  5. #3
    Senior Member Bellinilover's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    1,584
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    10

    Default

    That's a coincidence, as I just posted about dramatic coloraturas in your other thread. Anyway, I agree with your definitions and your choices, though I haven't actually heard every soprano on your list. To me a "dramatic coloratura soprano" is Callas or Sutherland or June Anderson -- any big-voiced soprano who specializes in roles like Norma or Lady Macbeth or the Donizetti Queens but who could also sing parts like Lucia, Adina, Elvira (PURITANI), Violetta, Queen of the Night, and Gilda. I would tend to classify young Renata Scotto as a dramatic coloratura, too; in later years I guess she was a spinto.

    A "coloratura soprano," on the other hand, has a smaller, lighter voice and couldn't even consider singing Norma, Lady Macbeth, or Anna Bolena; she might even sound slightly underpowered (though accurate) as the Queen of the Night. Examples would be Roberta Peters, Sumi Jo, Kathleen Battle, Natalie Dessay, and Edita Gruberova (though I'm not positive about that last name, as I can't tell for sure how big her voice actually was/is -- I've heard some people say it was an exceptionally big voice, and of course she has sung all three Donizetti Queens).

  6. Likes BalalaikaBoy, PetrB, GregMitchell liked this post
  7. #4
    Senior Member BalalaikaBoy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Posts
    1,107
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PetrB View Post
    Way overly fussy, or to many declensions which are not necessary.
    I will admit it's somewhat semantic (I've attempted to keep it basic for this reason), but necessarily so because it has very real implications. the reason why vocal fach exists is so that singers
    1) sing the repertoire they sound best in
    and
    2) sing repertoire which won't hurt their voice (opera history is jammed full of singers who ignored this and permanently damaged their voices)

    June Anderson and Marisa Galvany are both considered dramatic coloratura sopranos, but they would wreck their cords trying to sing each other's rep.

    Dramatic soprano, or "Dramatic," period:
    darker tone, perhaps "larger sounding,"* otherwise covers what a soprano does as well (plain soprano, brighter tone, maybe "smaller sounding." *
    * there are no implications of anything like actual greater vocal strength or amplitude, these are all qualities, not quantities.
    fach is primarily about weight, and tessitura not color. a darker voiced lyric soprano (say, Kiri te Kanawa or Anna Netrebko) is still a lyric soprano because that is where their voice sits most comfortably. color is strongly correlated (you'd be hard pressed to find many contraltos with dark voices or dark voiced lyric tenors), but it is not a make/break factor

    Coloratura:
    again, may be applied to a singer within any Fach, is about a far greater than average ability to sing agilely and quickly, florid passage work, etc.
    So there's that taken care of.
    this is true for most voice types, but in the case of the soprano, I interpret "coloratura soprano" to be a completely different type of voice from a lyric, spinto, etc. the tessitura is about a 3rd higher and there is an ease in the upper register not present in others sopranos.

    Lyric:
    (any range) is a notably non-strained ability to smoothly sing (without a audible shift of timbre or technique) within the named expected range as well as anywhere from an octave to an octave and a half above what is the more average range expected of soprano, alto, bass, tenor, etc.
    (Implies a bit of the coloratura quality, i.e. very fluid use of the voice throughout the range, and also can perform that somewhat at good speed.)
    agreed

    Spinto:
    a darker 'smokier' timbre to the voice; again it may apply to any Fach.
    No reason to complicate things, Wiki.
    again, color is secondary. vocal weight is the key.

    Edit add: Bellini Lover's post is also quite on the money, while it is more pointed toward the more conventional associations of types with their qualities (and what is written, and for whom). This would of course have coloratura sopranos associated with the higher and highest of sopranos, those almost always the smaller and lighter of sopranos, that making the ease of production on the higher and stratospheric passage work more readily possible. Dame Joan Sutherland was singular in that she had a very full (and large) soprano voice which she more than successfully cultivated to do (astonishing) coloratura singing.
    rare? yes
    singular? no, check out this power house of a coloratura soprano


    slightly less powerful, but still a formidable voice


    Jessye Norman, with a truly enormous voice, has so far defied one blanket categorization, debates still probably raging:-) Just beware of thinking of any of these types and descriptors as set in stone, the very reason I gave the most general definitions of those types and descriptors is they will serve you well, no matter what voice type you run across.)
    she is totally a dramatic mezzo, but I'll save that for another discussion
    and I agree that it's not black and white, the problem is that you seem to be implying this makes it insignificant.

    There are also dozens, literally, of more minutely specific names for any number of combinations of qualities for all of the Fachs, often those terms are in Italian.
    it's true, and I wish many of these terms would make their way to English, because I'm tired of hearing hipster divas singing completely the wrong rep and not sounding right

    The more common the occurrence of an available voice type and qualities found together (none of them are average, in a way) those are the ones you will find composers most often anticipate when writing. There are many instances, though, of a composer writing specifically for a singer with particular or somewhat singular abilities, outside of a general type.
    this is a good point
    Last edited by BalalaikaBoy; Sep-28-2014 at 06:10.

  8. #5
    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    11,622
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Lol. Do you even consider hipster divas in all of this?

    Yes 'weight' is a real and important acoustic phenomenon and factor. The larger and lower the voice (instruments too) the more air has to be moved, and that much more force put to moving the mass. This makes it increasingly difficult to play or sing rapid passages or flurries of notes -- it is literally that much more mass to move at speed. Timbre is not always exactly about weight, but can as easily be, again not quite as black and white.

    Fach categorization is a later phenomenon, and a most practical one. It saves going through reams of reading or recording to recall which singer is best suited for the role who can also sing it regularly (and consistently over several performances) without either simply fatiguing and delivering a bad performance and or actually damaging their instrument in the trying. Like anything which gets down to such fine degrees of 'sorting' and 'typing,' if it is adhered to without much other thought behind it, it can make for oversight of some otherwise completely worthy, interesting and capable candidates --which was all I was hoping to at least allude to.

    Yeah, too, Madame Norman is a dramatic soprano (mainly, or basically, lol) but using the following word in a completely non-pejorative sense for those remarkable and exceptionally flexible singers, they are freak voices, somewhat akin to a sport of nature, like a Pavarotti or a Joan Sutherland. They just cannot be so neatly pigeon holed, as can the singers whose voices fall more neatly within the parameters of one category or t'other.

    At any rate, many have no idea at all that coloratura is about a quality, not any given specific range (while of course the majority of that is found in the higher and lighter soprano fachs, and there is probably even another specific term for an alto with the same agility (ex: Stravinsky's and Auden's Baba the Turk), that spinto is not a quality unique to only the female voice, etc. and since I worked as accompanist for so many singers and choirs, and for the pupils of teachers in voice studios, I learned all of this from a number of horse's mouths, as it were. They were alternately as meticulous to fastidious about all the minutia, and at the same time taught me many of those terms were simultaneously attributable to more than voices of one gender, fach, or type.

    The more fluidly you know the word parts and their attributes, the less confusing when you run across a 'dramatic spinto coloratura mezzo soprano,' for example :-)
    Last edited by PetrB; Sep-28-2014 at 10:41.

  9. Likes BalalaikaBoy liked this post
  10. #6
    Senior Member BalalaikaBoy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Posts
    1,107
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PetrB View Post
    Lol. Do you even consider hipster divas in all of this?
    yes, because they are the ones who need to pay more attention to the fach system lol

    Yes 'weight' is a real and important acoustic phenomenon and factor. The larger and lower the voice (instruments too) the more air has to be moved, and that much more force put to moving the mass. This makes it increasingly difficult to play or sing rapid passages or flurries of notes -- it is literally that much more mass to move at speed. Timbre is not always exactly about weight, but can as easily be, again not quite as black and white.
    indeed, that was my point. (often times, the exceptions are my favorite. ie: dark, velvety lyric sopranos like Anna Moffo or brighter, heroic dramatic sopranos like Regine Crespin)

    Fach categorization is a later phenomenon, and a most practical one. It saves going through reams of reading or recording to recall which singer is best suited for the role who can also sing it regularly (and consistently over several performances) without either simply fatiguing and delivering a bad performance and or actually damaging their instrument in the trying. Like anything which gets down to such fine degrees of 'sorting' and 'typing,' if it is adhered to without much other thought behind it, it can make for oversight of some otherwise completely worthy, interesting and capable candidates --which was all I was hoping to at least allude to.
    I'm not disagreeing with this. the issue is, as I said, when you have very different types of voices classified within the same fach.

    to use a previous example Marisa Galvany vs June Anderson




    ....these voices are meant for completely different repertoire.

    Yeah, too, Madame Norman is a dramatic soprano (mainly, or basically, lol) but using the following word in a completely non-pejorative sense for those remarkable and exceptionally flexible singers, they are freak voices, somewhat akin to a sport of nature, like a Pavarotti or a Joan Sutherland. They just cannot be so neatly pigeon holed, as can the singers whose voices fall more neatly within the parameters of one category or t'other.
    actually, Joan Sutherland is a textbook example of dramatic coloratura soprano and Pavarotti fits fairly neatly into lyric tenor (a somewhat bigger lyric tenor, but still a lyric tenor. when you compare him to, say, Jonas Kaufmann, Franco Corelli or even John Alexander, the difference is obvious)

    In general, I think of Fach as a sort of "home base" for the singer, but some singers have a wider base and can dip into other territories (in fact, I'm about to make a thread on this).

    At any rate, many have no idea at all that coloratura is about a quality, not any given specific range (while of course the majority of that is found in the higher and lighter soprano fachs, and there is probably even another specific term for an alto with the same agility (ex: Stravinsky's and Auden's Baba the Turk), that spinto is not a quality unique to only the female voice, etc.
    honestly, I almost wish there was a coloratura equivalent to every voice type. sounds more complicated, but it would make easier if there were a coloratura and non-coloratura variety of each voice type.
    ex:
    light lyric coloratura soprano
    spinto coloratura soprano
    dramatic coloratura baritone
    lyric coloratura tenor
    coloratura contralto
    dramatic coloratura bass (Samuel Ramey says hi lmao)
    etc
    with sopranos in particular, I think there is a coloratura version of each of the fachs traditionally listed

    that spinto is not a quality unique to only the female voice, etc. and since I worked as accompanist for so many singers and choirs, and for the pupils of teachers in voice studios, I learned all of this from a number of horse's mouths, as it were.
    I often wish more people would use this term with baritones. for example, I would consider Robert Merrill, for instance, to be more of a "spinto" baritone, being right between lyric and dramatic (but not high enough to be a Verdi Baritone)

    The more fluidly you know the word parts and their attributes, the less confusing when you run across a 'dramatic spinto coloratura mezzo soprano,' for example :-)
    point taken XD
    Last edited by BalalaikaBoy; Sep-28-2014 at 12:51.

  11. #7
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Posts
    12,049
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    After reading all of the above posts, or as much of them as my brain could handle before I went catatonic, I have just two questions: 1. Do composers write music according to vocal fachs, or do they just write it for whoever can sing it? 2. Should singers build their careers by thinking about what fach they belong to and then choosing music written for those fachs, or should they try singing music that seems to suit their capabilities and then specialize in the music that feels and sounds best in their voices?

    I think it's pretty clear that the latter is true in both cases. And if it is, to whom, other than a statistician, is the concept of fach even necessary? If you can sing it and you find that it's good for you, sing it. If you can't, don't.

    Reality - in this case the human voice - doesn't break down into rigid categories. That's a game our minds play. There's always a limit to its usefulness.

  12. #8
    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    1,280
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Maria Callas and Joan Sutherland are all you need to know. It is one of the very rarest of vocal types.No one since Sutherland was in her league.

  13. #9
    Senior Member BalalaikaBoy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Posts
    1,107
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    After reading all of the above posts, or as much of them as my brain could handle before I went catatonic, I have just two questions: 1. Do composers write music according to vocal fachs, or do they just write it for whoever can sing it? 2. Should singers build their careers by thinking about what fach they belong to and then choosing music written for those fachs, or should they try singing music that seems to suit their capabilities and then specialize in the music that feels and sounds best in their voices? I think it's pretty clear that the latter is true in both cases.
    I think the answer is more "a little bit of both" (though I am not a composer, so I wouldn't know for sure).

    And if it is, to whom, other than a statistician, is the concept of fach even necessary? If you can sing it and you find that it's good for you, sing it. If you can't, don't.
    *looks at the countless examples of singers who got arrogant and wrecked their voices singing the wrong repertoire*
    I'd say it's useful to a good many people

    Reality - in this case the human voice - doesn't break down into rigid categories. That's a game our minds play.
    no, it doesn't break down into rigid categories. however, it does, break down into lose, but important categories. for example, if you are a lyric soprano, that doesn't mean "only sing music written specifically for the lyric soprano voice", but it does mean "don't even think about singing Turandot or Gioconda. you will make a fool of yourself at best and wreck your instrument at worst". it also means "if you are singing outside of your fach, you need to be a bit more careful". there are, for instance, plenty of bigger lyric sopranos who can sing Tosca or Cio Cio San, but is it a good idea to sing them over and over again in a large opera house with a loud orchestra? probably not.

    There's always a limit to its usefulness.
    naturally, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have uses

    again, it's not like every singer is going to fit neatly into only one category (one need look no further than Shirley Verrett, who could switch from dramatic mezzo to singing coloratura soprano passages up to a high D and make both sound natural). in fact, some fachs regularly dip into each other's music (plenty of spinto sopranos sing large lyric roles, dramatic sopranos and dramatic mezzos sometimes sing each other's rep), but the dramatic coloratura soprano fach is too broad imo and needs to be broken down.

  14. Likes Woodduck liked this post
  15. #10
    Senior Member BalalaikaBoy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Posts
    1,107
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    Maria Callas and Joan Sutherland are all you need to know. It is one of the very rarest of vocal types.No one since Sutherland was in her league.
    this is kinda my point. to my ear, Joan Sutherland and Callas had virtually nothing in common other than similar range. Sutherland was a bright, heroic, very high voice which struggled in the lower register and had to transpose parts of specific arias upward. Callas was a dark, steely voice with a cavernous lower register. she could give most dramatic mezzos a run for their money, but anything high C or above was unstable and wobbly after the beginning of her career and sounded strained.

    two great singers, but couldn't be more different.
    Last edited by BalalaikaBoy; Sep-30-2014 at 11:42.

  16. Likes Tuoksu liked this post
  17. #11
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Posts
    12,049
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BalalaikaBoy View Post
    I think the answer is more "a little bit of both" (though I am not a composer, so I wouldn't know for sure).


    *looks at the countless examples of singers who got arrogant and wrecked their voices singing the wrong repertoire*
    I'd say it's useful to a good many people


    no, it doesn't break down into rigid categories. however, it does, break down into lose, but important categories. for example, if you are a lyric soprano, that doesn't mean "only sing music written specifically for the lyric soprano voice", but it does mean "don't even think about singing Turandot or Gioconda. you will make a fool of yourself at best and wreck your instrument at worst". it also means "if you are singing outside of your fach, you need to be a bit more careful". there are, for instance, plenty of bigger lyric sopranos who can sing Tosca or Cio Cio San, but is it a good idea to sing them over and over again in a large opera house with a loud orchestra? probably not.


    naturally, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have uses

    again, it's not like every singer is going to fit neatly into only one category (one need look no further than Shirley Verrett, who could switch from dramatic mezzo to singing coloratura soprano passages up to a high D and make both sound natural). in fact, some fachs regularly dip into each other's music (plenty of spinto sopranos sing large lyric roles, dramatic sopranos and dramatic mezzos sometimes sing each other's rep), but the dramatic coloratura soprano fach is too broad imo and needs to be broken down.
    I understand and sympathize with the intellectual pleasure of making distinctions and categorizing things. Without that pursuit the natural sciences, among other disciplines, would never have come into being. It helps us orient ourselves in the world and generates terminology that allows us to think, communicate, and pass knowledge along. So long as we remember that categories are an expedient of our own creation, little harm is done. But we always need to remember that behind our categories is a world of phenomena indifferent to them, a universe filled with interparticipation, gradation and change, and that a thing is what we have named it only until it becomes something else and requires a different name, or until we learn something about it which forces us to alter our nomenclature.

    The number of categories to which we assign things - including singers - can be broken down as finely as we wish. We may enjoy the game of creating and assigning "fachs." We might, theoretically, create a special fach for nearly every singer, since few singers are likely to be equally suited to exactly the same roles. As I say, this can be a fun game for us to play. But when it comes right down to the business of singing, every singer is going to have to figure out what his vocal peculiarities and skills enable him to do, and no effort on his, or our, part to categorize him is going to give him that information. When a singer is out there in front of an audience struggling with a performance, it will do little good for him to think "I must be in the wrong fach," or "this role was written for a different fach." That singer needs to figure out what specific aspects of that specific role are problematic for his specific voice, and then figure out whether he can accommodate its requirements with a different vocal or dramatic approach or would be better off dropping the role altogether. He might then look at roles that appear to have similar requirements and decide whether to attempt them or not - but at no point is it necessary for him to ask whether those roles are "written for such and such a fach" or whether his voice is categorizable as being "in" that "fach." It's safe to say that when Nellie Melba lost her voice attempting to sing Brunnhilde she did not need to say to herself "evidently I am just not a hochdramatische sopran" in order to understand what had happened to her or to figure out how not to let it happen again.

    Your statement that "if you are a lyric soprano, that doesn't mean only sing music written for the lyric soprano voice" assumes that there is something in reality called a "lyric soprano" and that composers write music for it. But in reality there are an unlimited number of actual singers, all different, with voices differing in range, tone color, amplitude, and flexibility, and an unlimited variety of music with different requirements with respect to all those vocal capabilities. Voices do not inherently inhabit our categories - "lyric," "spinto," "lyrico-spinto," "coloratura," "lyric-coloratura," etc., etc., and neither, I can assure you absolutely, do composers write music with such categories in mind. We like to talk about "Wagnerian sopranos" and "Verdi baritones," but when we hear such diverse singers as Marjorie Lawrence and Birgit Nilsson both successfully inhabiting the one "fach," and Mattia Battistini and Leonard Warren the other, I think it's pretty clear that our categories tell us little of interest about actual singers and what music they ought to be singing. We might ask what Wagner and Verdi would have said on the subject, and in fact we do have some information about that; I'll mention only that Wagner expected bel canto technique from his singers, including portamento and trills, at neither of which Brunnhildes of recent memory have particularly excelled, but of which Frida Leider was quite capable. Given that, should we classify both Leider and, say, Varnay as "Wagnerian" or "hochdramatische" sopranos? Personally, I couldn't care less what we call them. I care only that one of them possessed specific technical skills useful in the execution of specific musical works, and the other didn't. And no amount of "faching" will tell me a thing I can't hear with my own ears, or tell those singers whether they should be out there onstage trying to convince us that that's where they belong.

    P.S. Let me just add to the above that I have no problem with the use of "fach" terminology for convenience or in a context where precise distinctions do not matter. It's perfectly reasonable to refer to both Callas and Sutherland as "dramatic coloraturas" as a rough way of distinguishing them from, say, Lily Pons and Helen Traubel. They both had big, flexible voices, and they sang a number of the same roles. But, beyond that, assigning them to various "fachs" and "subfachs" tells us virtually nothing of interest, and arguing about how to categorize them is a waste of time.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Sep-30-2014 at 16:57.

  18. #12
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    4,826
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BalalaikaBoy View Post
    this is kinda my point. to my ear, Joan Sutherland and Callas had virtually nothing in common other than similar range. Sutherland was a bright, heroic, very high voice which struggled in the lower register and had to transpose parts of specific arias upward. Callas was a dark, steely voice with a cavernous lower register. she could give most dramatic mezzos a run for their money, but anything high C or above was unstable and wobbly after the beginning of her career and sounded strained.

    two great singers, but couldn't be more different.
    Which period exactly do you mean by the beginning of Callas's career. Her main career started in 1947, and in Anna Bolena in 1957 she can still sing a huge, powerful sustained top D at the end of the Act I Finale. Her top is pretty impressive too in the live Un Ballo in Maschera from the same year. As Amina in Cologne the same year she cadenzas up to an top Eb off impressive dimensions, effecting a diminuendo on this stratospheric note; something I've never heard from any other singer including Sutherland. It is after this that the problems become noticeable, though she is still in remarkably firm voice as Medea in Dallas in 1958.

    Sutherland and Callas do indeed sound very different, but what I think Seattleopera fan is pointing out that these were two very large voices, with incredible facility in coloratura. That is what a dramatic coloratura is. A singer with a large voice that has enormous flexibilty, and they are extremely rare.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

  19. #13
    Senior Member BalalaikaBoy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Posts
    1,107
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    I understand and sympathize with the intellectual pleasure of making distinctions and categorizing things. Without that pursuit the natural sciences, among other disciplines, would never have come into being. It helps us orient ourselves in the world and generates terminology that allows us to think, communicate, and pass knowledge along. So long as we remember that categories are an expedient of our own creation, little harm is done. But we always need to remember that behind our categories is a world of phenomena indifferent to them, a universe filled with interparticipation, gradation and change, and that a thing is what we have named it only until it becomes something else and requires a different name, or until we learn something about it which forces us to alter our nomenclature.
    I'm aware of this. it doesn't mean that opening them up for discussion is a bad thing

    But in reality there are an I'll mention only that Wagner expected bel canto technique from his singers, including portamento and trills, at neither of which Brunnhildes of recent memory have particularly excelled, but of which Frida Leider was quite capable. Given that, should we classify both Leider and, say, Varnay as "Wagnerian" or "hochdramatische" sopranos? Personally, I couldn't care less what we call them. I care only that one of them possessed specific technical skills useful in the execution of specific musical works, and the other didn't. And no amount of "faching" will tell me a thing I can't hear with my own ears, or tell those singers whether they should be out there onstage trying to convince us that that's where they belong.
    Frieda Lieder is amazing! and yeah, I wish today's Wagnerian singers would actually work on their technique instead of acting like doing so is a luxury. my ears can't handle any more shrieking or wobbly high notes

    P.S. Let me just add to the above that I have no problem with the use of "fach" terminology for convenience or in a context where precise distinctions do not matter. It's perfectly reasonable to refer to both Callas and Sutherland as "dramatic coloraturas" as a rough way of distinguishing them from, say, Lily Pons and Helen Traubel. They both had big, flexible voices, and they sang a number of the same roles. But, beyond that, assigning them to various "fachs" and "subfachs" tells us virtually nothing of interest, and arguing about how to categorize them is a waste of time.
    Last edited by BalalaikaBoy; Oct-01-2014 at 11:49.

  20. Likes Woodduck liked this post
  21. #14
    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    1,280
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BalalaikaBoy View Post
    this is kinda my point. to my ear, Joan Sutherland and Callas had virtually nothing in common other than similar range. Sutherland was a bright, heroic, very high voice which struggled in the lower register and had to transpose parts of specific arias upward. Callas was a dark, steely voice with a cavernous lower register. she could give most dramatic mezzos a run for their money, but anything high C or above was unstable and wobbly after the beginning of her career and sounded strained.

    two great singers, but couldn't be more different.
    Alas, you have not heard Callas in her prime obviously. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=caYGRDIBAa0. Her high D's and E's in this opera are ginormous. Sutherland began as a mezzo and her early recordings could show a lovely lower register, as one can see in this clip from Othello:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRR2wN7ZmX4

  22. #15
    Senior Member Marschallin Blair's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    9,367
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    Alas, you have not heard Callas in her prime obviously. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=caYGRDIBAa0. Her high D's and E's in this opera are ginormous. Sutherland began as a mezzo and her early recordings could show a lovely lower register, as one can see in this clip from Othello:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRR2wN7ZmX4
    ARMIDA.jpg

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=caYGRDIBAa0

    06:35-7:02.

    Game over.

    "Everyone has a plan. . . until they're hit." - Mike Tyson
    Last edited by Marschallin Blair; Oct-01-2014 at 14:08.

  23. Likes GregMitchell, Seattleoperafan liked this post
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. "Dark", "Ominous", and "Foreboding" music
    By KYGray in forum Orchestral Music
    Replies: 34
    Last Post: Jan-15-2015, 05:23
  2. Coloratura Soprano Arias
    By ComposerOfAvantGarde in forum Opera
    Replies: 16
    Last Post: Sep-02-2014, 19:32
  3. "Lord of the Rings" - "May It Be" - Enya - Cover by "Elf Warrior" Elena House
    By arts in forum The Movie Corner: Music for Cinema and TV
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: Dec-25-2012, 03:21
  4. Coloratura soprano
    By marija in forum New Members - Introductions
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: Jun-18-2007, 17:50

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •