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Thread: Dramatic soprano/tenor is not a "high" voice

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    Senior Member BalalaikaBoy's Avatar
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    Sep 2014
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    Default Dramatic soprano/tenor is not a "high" voice

    There is a common misconception in opera that tenor/soprano is high voice, baritone/mezzo is medium voice and bass/contralto is low voice. In truth, real baritones and mezzos are fairly low, heavy voices while dramatic soprano and tenor are middle range. People lament the dearth of the latter in modern music, when in truth, they represent something closer to the middle of the human voice, not rare anomalies. On the other hand, competition for the former is pushed artificially high by all the mis-trained higher fach being told that because their voice is "in the middle", that it means they are baritone or mezzo, to the point where many have forgotten what a real baritone or mezzo even sounds like.

    Properly trained, a dramatic soprano will have a chest voice that modern teachers would mistake for contralto, often stretching down to low E or even low D.

    similarly, a true dramatic tenor is a dark, manly sound, not a voice which is supposed to sound boyish, youthful or bright. today, Giuseppe Giacomini would be cast as a baritone.


    high voice: soprano/tenor
    medium voice: mezzo/baritone
    low voice: contralto/bass

    very high: leggiero soprano/tenor
    high: lyric soprano/tenor
    medium-high: spinto soprano/tenor
    medium-low: dramatic soprano/tenor
    low: mezzo/baritone
    very low: contralto/bass

  2. #2
    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
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    Of course there are the freak voices of Nilsson, Eva Turner and Grob Prandl, that had all you described but also had a seemingly endless supply of notes in the high tessitura. Nilsson had a low speaking voice and easily sang the low F in Salome. Flagstad was very much what you described.

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