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Opera Singers, Sopranos, Mezzo to Basso.. The Voice
Opera Basics to Get Your Feet Wet
For many years now I have been listening to Opera singers and classical music. However, unfortunately, with the majority of junk music dominating television, radio and night clubs, one must go out of their way to find serious music, and as a result, most people have no idea what opera is and what a real singing voice sounds like. Classical singers know their range and what particular pieces of music are suitable to their voice.
If you would like some basics on what opera voices are and how to get started appreciating opera, you have come to the right place. Although opera is music at its absolute finest, it can be hard to understand at first, and a little overwhelming. I will present light facts about operatic voices and a general guide for getting familiar with particular singers and pieces of music for enjoyable listening before you start going to major operas.
Operatic roles were written for powerful singers whose voices could be heard without microphones, in an enormous opera house.
Female opera singers: They come in soprano, mezzo soprano, and contralto, soprano being the highest, and mezzo is italian for medium. Sopranos with the most agile voices are called coloratura sopranos, for an example of a coloratura, see Jane Powell, you will hear what I mean right away.
Male opera singer: tenor, baritone and basso
Opera voices are considered to be either Lyric or dramatic. Lyric being the softer sounding voices, some opera singers like Deanna Durbin, would be considered a lyric soprano. The dramatic voices are used for blasting their voices in large opera houses. Enrico Caruso is a fine example of a dramatic tenor.
Historical note: Before women were permitted to sing in operas, men played the women's parts. Usually, castratos (castrated boys) played the female parts. Castrating boys for singing was outlawed sometime in the mid 1850's, one can only wonder what those high notes combined with the large chest and lungs of a man must have sounded like.
- Operatic Soprano, Deanna Durbin
Lyric soprano, Deanna Durbin retired from Hollywood, and has never come back to the public. She shed her girl image, becoming more glamorous and sophisticated.
Recomended Voices for getting to know the Sound
Coloratura - Lily Pons Lyric soprano - Eleanor Steber contralto - Francis Langford Lyric Tenor - John McCormack Baritone- Nelson Eddy Basso-Fyodor Chaliapin
Rise Stevens is the only Mezzo soprano I can think of who is easy to find and like while learning opera. She sang with Nelson Eddy in the Chocolate Soldier.