Mozart and a Contralto Voice

Starting at the Beginning

Music has always been an important part of my life, and I constantly strive to make my voice better. Now, before I continue any farther, let me make something clear about my voice – I am a contralto, which means my vocal quality is very deep, and low notes are incredibly easy for me. Conversely, high notes can sometimes require me to warm up my voice for a good hour before I even attempt singing higher than a C the octave above middle C. I believe this partially stems from back when I was thirteen, and pretended that I was a soprano; therefore, never bothering to warm up my upper notes before belting out something along the lines of Mozart’s Queen of the Night.

In July 2011, I performed J.L. Hatton's "The Enchantress" at my mother's wedding.
In July 2011, I performed J.L. Hatton's "The Enchantress" at my mother's wedding. | Source

In fact, Mozart was a big reason I used to pretend that I was a soprano – almost every opera that I had heard up to that point only had soprano female leads, and even back then my biggest dream was to be an opera singer. Eventually after about three years, I realized that I was doing nothing but destroying my voice by keeping up the act that I was a soprano, so I sadly put away my Mozart aria books, dug out my mom’s old contralto songbook, and began the process of healing my voice from the years of abuse I had subjected it to. At that time, I had figured that singing a Mozart lead would never be in my future, and I kept this mindset for about four years.

Then, one day last summer, I wandered into Van Curlers, the music store in the Proctors Theater. I was looking for materials for the upcoming semester, since I had exhausted the music I enjoyed in my current songbooks, so I walked over towards to vocal music section. Lo and behold, what do I find? Sitting at the very front of the M section – ahead of Mahler, Mendelssohn, and Meyerbeer – sat a Mozart aria book. This wasn’t just any Mozart aria book, though. This was a Mozart aria book for contraltos, and it turned out that the arias were for a lead in Mitridate, re di Ponto, an opera Mozart had written when he was fourteen. I immediately bought the book and all but ran home to learn as much as I could about the opera. Links led to more links, and more researching. Soon, it was after midnight, and I had learned that during his earlier years Mozart had had a heavy flirtation with composing roles for male altos, which are today performed by women contraltos. It looks like my hopes of performing a lead role in a Mozart opera isn’t such a pipe dream after all!

In fact, I realized a part of this dream this past semester, where I studied and performed "Son reo, l'error confesso," from Mitridate.

Recital, April 2011

Comments 4 comments

J.S.Matthew profile image

J.S.Matthew 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

You have an amazing gift! Awesome music. Voted Up and a bunch more! Keep up the great work!


Tess Delain profile image

Tess Delain 5 years ago from Schenectady, NY Author

Thank you very much! :)

J.S.Matthew profile image

J.S.Matthew 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

Your most welcome! I am sharing this Hub!


Sylvia Kutchukian 3 years ago

Hello Tess,

Thank you for sharing your lovely voice with us. I am a former professional opera singer, currently a voice teacher/coach. I also direct an arts organization and for 15 years have presented Handel's "Messiah", which we will again present next May 30, 2014. I would like to invite you to join the 100 voice Ecumenical Choir and would be happy to email you the details if you send me your address. You can reach me at: Hope to hear from you soon.


Sylvia Kutchukian

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