3.1 Classification of female voices

  • Coloratura and lyric coloratura soprano
  • Light and strong lyrical soprano
  • Lyric-dramatic and dramatic soprano
  • Lyrical and dramatic mezzo-soprano
  • Contralto


This category includes: coloratura soprano, lyric coloratura soprano, lyric light, strong lyric soprano, falcon soprano and dramatic soprano.

Coloratura and lyric coloratura soprano.

(Related: C and LC)

This is the lightest and the most agile voices. Range of C: "low B" (B3) to "high F" (F6). The range of L-C: C (C4) to "high F" (F6). The bottom fifth of the range is expressive on piano, but here the voice cannot sound on forte. Working middle range is from E4, F4 to F5, G5 sharp. Both types have a brilliantly high upper extension, which sounds a little warmer by the L-C. They can easily cope with all kinds of ornamentation, but it comes to a coloratura naturally whereas for the L-C the training is more important. This voice portrays young heroines, cheerful, sly, and mischievous, it can express impartiality, coolness and even cruelty. Dramatic colours are barely available for this voice: they express sorrow, suffering, and cruelty with help of lyrical means.

Operatic repertoire:

- Queen of the Night - Mozart's "The Magic Flute" (C);

- Gilda - Verdi's "Rigoletto" (L-C);

- Juliet - Gounod's "Romeo and Juliet" (C);

- Elvira - Bellini's " Puritans";

- Rosina - Rossini's "Barber of Seville" (now - C);

- Filina Thomas "Mignon";

- Violetta - Verdi's "La Traviata" (now - C);

- Lakme - Delibes 'Lakme' (C);

- Queen of Shemakha - Rimsky-Korsakov "The Golden Cockerel" (C);

- Antonida Glinka's "Ivan Susanin" (L-C);

- Swan Princess - Rimsky-Korsakov "The Tale of Tsar Saltan" (L-C);

- Oksana - Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Night Before Christmas";

- Shahsanam Glier's "Shahsanam";

- Ludmila - Glinka's "Ruslan and Lyudmila" (A-C);

- Lyuba Shevtsova Meytus "Young Guard".

For these voices written many lyrical songs, including "It's good here," Rachmaninoff, "The Nightingale" Aljab'ev, "Tales of the Vienna Woods" by Strauss, "The explosion of laughter" Auber, as well as concert vocalizes of Rachmaninoff, Gliere, Rakov.

Eminent singers: Antonina Nezhdanova (L-C), Valeria Autograph (C), Milica Korjus (C), Gohar Gasparyan (C), Alla Solenkova (C), Bella Rudenko, Galina Oleynichenko, Evgenya Miroshnichenko, Cathlyn Battle (C), Montserrat Caballe (L-C), Joan Sutherlend (L-C).

Light lyrical (LL) and a strong lyrical soprano (LC)

These types of voices also have this so-called lightness of voice and a warm tone, but their agility is obviously more restrained. Range: C4 to C6, the lower fifth is convincing in its shades. Working middle range: F4 to G5. They usually sing the heroines with inner power, not showing many of their emotions.

Operatic repertoire:

- Michaela - Bizet's "Carmen" (LL);

- Margarita - Gounod's "Faust" (LC);

- Desdemona - Verdi's "Otello" (LC);

- Elsa Wagner's "Lohengrin" (LC);

- Mimi - Puccini's "La Boheme" (LL);

- Cio-Cio-San - Puccini's "Madame Butterfly" (LC);

- Parasya - Mussorgsky "Sorochinskaya Fair";

- Martha - Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Tsar's Bride" (LL);

- Volkhov - Rimsky-Korsakov's "Sadko" (LC);

- Iolanta Tchaikovsky's "Iolanta" (LC);

- Tatiana - Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin" (LC);

- Prilepa - Tchaikovsky "The Queen of Spades" (LC).

It should be noted that the part of Marfa is usually taken by a lighter soprano, and the Tatiana's one is taken by a strong or a lyric-dramatic soprano.

Performers: M.Kuznetsova, E.Tsvetkova, Renata Scotto, Maria Bieshu, Mirella Freni, Tamara Milashkina.

Lyric-dramatic (LD) and the dramatic soprano (D)

Dramatic soprano is stronger, more powerful; it is bigger throughout the range than those previously discussed. This is perhaps the most feature-rich soprano voice, which has a clear contrast between piano and forte, available for lyric as well as dramatic colouring. Lyric-dramatic and dramatic soprano has the same range as the previous vote, but a richer timbre and dynamic variety of shades in the bottom fifth, in the mixed part of the range and the head register. In addition, the chesty sound of these voices is preserved up to higher notes. Range: C4-C6, the working middle range expands from F4 to G5. Lyric-dramatic soprano can execute both lyrical and dramatic parts, showing the qualities in the characters that their timbre can describe. In operas these are heroines full of passion, deceit, overflowing with strong feelings, in other words, women with strong personalities.

Operatic repertoire:

- Turandot - Puccini's "Turandot" (D);

- Aida - Verdi's "Otello" (LD);

- Santuzza - Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana" (LD);

- Tosca - Puccini's "Tosca" (LC, LD);

- Gorislava - Glinka's "Ruslan and Lyudmila" (LD);

- Yaroslavna Borodin's "Prince Igor" (LD);

- Natasha Dargomyzhsky's "Mermaid" (LD);

- Lisa Tchaikovsky's "The Queen of Spades" (LC, LD);

- Kuma Tchaikovsky's "Enchantress" (LD);

- Katerina - Shostakovich - "Katerina Ismailova" (LD).

Sometimes these voices perform the parts of older women, sometimes - characteristically comic parts.

These strong voices are not as common in life. A reason for a dramatic decrease in the number of such voices may be always progressively ascending scale of the orchestra (from 424 vibrations in 1858 up to 440 now).

Owners of these types of voice: Maria Callas (D), Ryna Kabayvanska (LD), Feliya Litvin (L), Galina Vishnevskaya (LD), Natalia Troitskaya (D), Lyubov Kazarnovskaya (D), Elena Ivanova (LD), Galina Gorchakova (LD), Jessie Norman (L), Eva Marton (D), Teresa Stratas (LD), Lydia Abramova (LD).

Lyrical (LM) and the dramatic (DM) mezzo-soprano

The first type is more close to soprano, the second one - to contralto. Dramatic mezzo has a richer chest register; this voice has a denser middle range. The range of both voices from A3 to A4, though some voices happen to be lower as well as higher. Among the parts there are both flirty, cunning seductress with strong temperament, and young girls who are ready to commit a deed, and heroic travesty.

Operatic repertoire:

- Pauline Tchaikovsky's "The Queen of Spades" (LM);

- Carmen - Bizet's "Carmen" (LM);

- Milovzor Tchaikovsky's "The Queen of Spades" (LM);

- Spring - Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Snow Maiden" (LM);

- Hannah - Rimsky-Korsakov's "May Night";

- Jeanne d'Arc Tchaikovsky's "The Maid of Orleans" (LM);

- Cinderella - Rossini's "Cinderella" (LM);

- Siebel - Gounod's "Faust" (LM);

- Cherubino - Mozart's "Marriage of Figaro" (LM);

- Azucena - Verdi's "Il Trovatore" (DM);

- Rogneda Serov's "Rogneda" (DM);

- Martha Mussorgsky's "Khovanshchina" (LM);

- Lyubasha - Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Tsar's Bride";

- Lubava - Rimsky-Korsakov's "Sadko".

Performers: Nadezhda Obukhova, Vera Davydova, Zara Dolukhanova, Irina Arkhipova, Elena Obraztsova, Tamara Sinyavskaya, Olga Borodina, Ludmila Simonova, Teresa Berganza, Cecilia Bartoli (coloratura mezzo-soprano)


Contralto is a very rare voice type and the lowest of all female ones. Its range expands from G3 to F5-G5. But the history knows some voices with a greater range. Most juicy chest timbre of the voice is manifested in the area of G3-G4. Now the party, written for this type of voice, are executed by mezzo-sopranos.

Operatic repertoire:

- Ulrike - Verdi's "Masked Ball";

- Vanya Glinka's "Ivan Susanin";

- Ratmir - Glinka's "Ruslan and Lyudmila";

- Nejata - Rimsky-Korsakov's "Sadko";

- Konchakovna Borodin's "Prince Igor."

The owners of this voice type: Raisa Kotova, Marta Pontryagina, Kathleen Ferrier, Biljana Kovacs (Montenegro).