Sopranos have the brightest tone color and highest pitch range, especially Coloratura sopranos, who have enchanted people with their voices all over the world. They are extraordinarily talented with a powerful and flexible voice. Melodyful lists some of the best Coloratura sopranos of all time.
Did You Know?
The word ‘coloratura‘ is originally an Italian word, but in English, it is used to elaborate melody, especially in vocal music and operatic singing of the 18th and 19th centuries with trills, leaps, and runs.
Opera, as we all know, utilizes music to express emotions and tell a story. It has been around since the 16th century. It is characterized by the powerful voices of the sopranos and the dramatics that often accompany the singing. Typically, a soprano is a female opera singer having the highest vocal range, but at times, men who sing in the voice range of soprano using falsetto instead of modal voice are called male sopranos. One such type is the coloratura sopranos.
A coloratura soprano is a singer, usually a female, who sings high-pitched voice ranges having graceful runs, leaps, and trills. They have great, flexible voices as compared to other types of sopranos. Depending upon the vocal agility and range, they have been broadly classified into two: lyric sopranos and dramatic sopranos.
Below is a list of the famous coloratura sopranos ever.
Greatest Coloratura Sopranos Ever
Lyric Coloratura Sopranos
A lyric soprano is characterized by a voice type with high vocal range that is young, bright, powerful and clear, especially at higher notes. They have a range of C4 (middle C) to F6 (high F). They have a defined and light-textured voice quality and penetrating voice that can be heard easily in spite of an orchestra playing too. The light lyric soprano has light voice, but a penetrating one. The full lyric soprano has a more mature voice with more density and texture.
Take a look at the best lyric sopranos of all time.
Kathleen Battle (1948)
Born in Portsmouth, Ohio, Kathleen Battle is an African-American operatic, light lyric soprano who is known for her pure and versatile voice. She debuted in operas in 1975 and progressed to lyric and coloratura soprano in the 1980s. She has maintained her career in broad recitals and recording repertoire, which led her to receive many Grammy awards. She has worked with some of the great opera houses all over the world. She has received six honorary doctorates from universities in America.
Best Works: Rejoice Greatly and Were You There When They Crucified My Lord from the album Grace.
Natalie Dessay (1965)
Born in Lyon, France, Natalie Dessay is a French coloratura soprano. While studying at the Conservatoire de Bordeaux, she stood first in the International Mozart Competition at the Vienna State Opera that was considered to be a prestigious win. She has a strong, but clear voice. She won acclaims and awards for her many of the performances.
Best Works: Lucia di Lammermoor, The Magic Flute, La fille du régiment, and La sonnambula.
Lucia Popp (1939 – 1993)
A Slovak operatic soprano, Lucia Popp began her career as a soubrette soprano and later turned to coloratura and light lyric soprano. She debuted at a professional level at the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. She was a classic and stylish singer who combined technique and artistry, which imbued in many of her classic operatic roles, recordings, and lieder as well.
Best Works: Eva from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, The Cunning Little Vixen
Beverly Sills (1929 – 2007)
Beverly Sills was an American soprano who was known for her coloratura soprano roles in live opera and recordings. She sang with much ease and sincerity, breathing life into music. She made her professional debut with Gilbert and Sullivan company in 1945. In 1947, she made her debut in stage opera in Bizet’s Carmen. She was at the peak of her career between the 1950s to 1970s. She received many honors and awards from the 1970s till her final years.
Best Works: Lucia di Lammermoor, Massenet’s Manon, Marie in La fille du régiment, Rosina in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, Violetta in Verdi’s La traviata, Elisabetta in Roberto Devereux
Anna Netrebko (1971)
Anna is a Russian soprano who has a strong and clear voice without any shrillness even at the highest of the voice range. She was the first soprano to be featured in the Time magazine’s Time 100 list in the year 2007 and was named Musician of the Year for the year 2008 by the Musical America journal. She made her stage opera debut at the age of 22 and went on to sing many roles after that.
Best Works: Puccini’s La bohème
Dramatic Coloratura Sopranos
A dramatic soprano is type of female operatic voice that is characterized by wider, larger, and richer, but dark timbre. It has stamina, great flexibility, strong emotions, and volume, but less agility as compared to the light soprano. The range for this type of voice is from B3 (low B) to F6 (high F). The roles that are written for a dramatic soprano are usually heavy, mythic, and suffering.
Given below is a list of some of the best dramatic sopranos ever.
Maria Callas (1923-1977)
She was an American-born Greek soprano who excelled in both dramatic as well as lyric coloraturas. She is considered as one of the most renowned and powerful opera singers of the 20th century. She studied music in Greece and made her professional debut in 1941. She had an intoxicating and versatile voice, and a great stage presence that kept the audiences mesmerized, which is why she has been very rightly referred to as ‘La Divina.’
Best Works: Tosca
Joan Sutherland (1926-2010)
Born to Scottish parents in Sydney, Australia, Joan was a dramatic coloratura soprano from Australia, and had a beautiful, fresh, powerful, and silvery tone of voice combined with perfect agility. It was bright and youthful, which darkened as the opera proceeded. She made her concert debut in 1947 and stage debut in 1951. She is one of the most remarkable singers of the 20th century and is known for her contribution to bel canto repertoire from the 1950s to 1980s. She was referred as La Stupenda by the audience in 1960 for her role in Alcina. She received many honors and awards even after her career was over.
Best Works: Lucia, Norma, Amina
June Anderson (1952)
June is an American coloratura soprano who won Grammy awards for her performances. She was the youngest contender in the Metropolitan Opera auditions at the age of 17 years. Her professional debut was in 1978 as the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. She had a beautiful voice with an accurate pitch.
Best Works: Norma, La Sonnambula
Cristina Deutekom (1931-2014)
Cristina was a Dutch coloratura soprano who sang with almost all the leading tenors at that time. Her major breakthrough was the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s The Magic Flute at Dutch National Opera. She was known for her high-pitched voice that was suitable for dramatic coloratura. She performed at almost all the major opera houses and was honored with many awards during the 1970s.
Best Works: Casta Diva, Odabella from Norma
Kirsten Flagstad (1895-1962)
Kirsten was a Norwegian dramatic soprano who was known for her beautiful, yet powerful and consistent voice tone with a bit of roughness in her delivery. Her dramatization maintained the dignity and elegance of a diva. She is considered as one of the greatest singers of the 20th century. She debuted in 1932 in Rodelinda, and became a great sensation in 1935 when she debuted at the Met. She is known for her roles in Wagner.
Best Works: Wagner, Tristan und Isolde
So, these were some of the best coloratura sopranos of all time. Of course, there are many other talented sopranos too. Please drop in your favorites or the one you feel we’ve missed out in the comments section below.