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Thread: Do some voices sound more 'typically operatic' than others?

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    Default Do some voices sound more 'typically operatic' than others?

    I'm no expert by any stretch but to me it always seemed like Shirley Verrett's or Elina Garanca's voices for instance are very standard....like that is what 'typical' opera singing should sound like. Karita Mattila's super light voice on the other hand would be an example of something that is an outlier (that's not to say that is bad per se....not by any means). So would Christina Deutekon's laser beam like projection of her voice.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    My first thought is to say that the more voices you listen to, the less you imagine that there is such a thing as a "typically operatic" voice. But voices vary greatly in their distinctiveness; some are unique and instantly recognizable, while others seem generic. Of the singers you mention, only Garanca's sound seems rather generic to me - I'm pretty sure I couldn't pick her out of a group of randomly chosen mezzos - while all the others have timbres I find distinctive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    My first thought is to say that the more voices you listen to, the less you imagine that there is such a thing as a "typically operatic" voice. But voices vary greatly in their distinctiveness; some are unique and instantly recognizable, while others seem generic. Of the singers you mention, only Garanca's sound seems rather generic to me - I'm pretty sure I couldn't pick her out of a group of randomly chosen mezzos - while all the others have timbres I find distinctive.

    That's not what I'm asking....it's a bit hard to explain....by typically 'operatic' I didn't mean generic/unremarkable....I meant the way opera is supposed to sound. Again, I'm by no means any kinda of expert, but I don't think Karita Mattila's voice, for all its qualities, is what opera should sound like...it's just too light. I guess you could compare what I'm asking to Italianette voices vs voices that don't sound Italianette. Does it make sense?
    Last edited by Baritenor; Feb-09-2020 at 23:51.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    A voice can be fairly light and still be effective in opera, in suitable roles. Karita Mattila has a voice of medium weight and has sung successfully roles as heavy as Tosca and Salome. It seems to me that your idea of a typical operatic voice is too limited. If a voice is well-trained, if it has the technique to handle the music comfortably and the strength to carry in a theater, and if its timbre is pleasing to audiences, then it probably sounds "the way opera is supposed to sound." Consider, too, that tastes in vocal sound have differed somewhat over time and among different cultural traditions. That doesn't make, say, Italian singing more operatic than German or Russian singing. We should simply appreciate the different sound ideals these cultures favor.

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    Senior Member BalalaikaBoy's Avatar
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    an "atypical operatic sound" is often related to
    1) singing music which is too deep for one's voice. so many "lyric baritone" are lazy spinto/dramatic tenors without good training that don't have the dark, manly timbre of true baritone. many "lyric mezzos" as well are mis-trained lyric and spinto sopranos (some speculate that lyric baritone/mezzo isn't even a real fach, personally I'm not willing to go that far)
    2) overly nasal singing. common among modern American singers
    3) under-singing of the chest voice, resulting in an artificially bright sound which lacks clarity and body

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