3.2 Classification of male voices

  • Altino, lyrical light and strong lyric tenor
  • Lyric-dramatic and dramatic tenor
  • Character tenor
  • Lyrical and dramatic baritone
  • Bass-baritone, central bass, bass profundo, bass buffo


Tenors include: altino, lyrical light tenor, strong lyrical tenor, lyrical and dramatic tenor, dramatic and character tenor.

Vocal range: C3-C5. Tenor-altino has a range expanding from C3 to E5. Dramatic tenors have the range A2-C5. Extremely rare are voices, which range and timbre allow to perform both tenor and baritone parts (E.Karuzo).

Altino (A), lyrical light (LL) and strong lyrical (LS) tenor

The first two types have their lower segment of the voice sounding just on piano; their upper register is light. These voices easily perform coloratura passages and ornamentations. Lyric tenor can be also called di grazia (slim). The capabilities of these votes are comparable to those of female voices. Most often tenors, altino and light lyrical tenors perform the parts of heroic lovers, but they also can perform the parts of old men.

Operatic repertoire:

- Berendey - Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Snow Maiden" (A);

- Astrologer - Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Golden Cockerel"(Only A);

- Holy fool Mussorgsky's "Khovanshchina" (A);

- Lensky - Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin" (LL);

- Bayan - Glinka's "Ruslan and Lyudmila" (M & A);

- Faust - Gounod's "Faust" (AA);

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

- Duke - Verdi's "Rigoletto" (LL);

- Indian guest - Rimsky-Korsakov's "Sadko" (A & LL);

- Levko - Rimsky-Korsakov's "May Night" (LL);

- Almaviva - Rossini's "Barber of Seville" (A & LL);

- Lohengrin Wagner's "Lohengrin" (LS);

- Werther - Massenet's "Werther" (LS);

- Rudolph - Puccini's "La Boheme" (LL).

Owners of such voices: Ivan Kozlovsky (A), Sergei Lemeshev (LL), Leonid Sobinov (LS), Yuri Marusin (LL), Alfredo Kraus (L), Andrew Dunayev (LL), Michael Urusov (LS), Ahmed Agadi (LS ), Alibek Dnishev (LL).

Lyrical drama (LD) and dramatic (D) Tenor

Dramatic tenor can be also called di forza (strong), which determines its place in the operatic art. He usually plays heroic parts, requiring a powerful voice with bright timbre colours throughout the range. Repertoire of a lyric-dramatic tenor is almost the same as that of the dramatic one.

Their parts are men with strong characters and personality, capable to accomplish a feat, they usually have to face considerable life's challenges.

Operatic repertoire dramatic tenor:

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

- Siegfried Wagner's "Siegfried";

- Othello - Verdi's "Otello."

Operatic repertoire for two types of voice:

- Radames - Verdi's "Aida";

- Sobinin - Glinka's "Ivan Susanin";

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

- Calaf - Puccini's "Turandot";

- Cavaradossi - Puccini's "Tosca."

Performers: Enrico Caruso (D), Mario Lanza (D), Nikolai Figner (D), Mario Del Monaco (D) and Vladimir Atlantis (D), Vladislav Piavko (D), Placido Domingo (D), Jose Carreras (LD) .

Character tenor

This type has very particular timbre coloration and usually performs second roles. He may not have the full range of the tenor, but his voice should be particularly expressive at a certain part of his range as well as flexible in the portrayal of insinuating, flattering, sizzling insidious whisper.

Operatic repertoire:

- Shuysky - Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov";

- Trick - Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin";

- Misael - Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov";

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

- Eroshka Borodin's "Prince Igor";

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

- Ovlur Borodin's "Prince Igor";

- Podyachy Mussorgsky's "Khovanshchina."

Lyric (LB) and dramatic (DB) Baritone

These types of voices combine powerful sound and soft, warm tone. Range: A2-A4. The lower notes of a dramatic baritone sound juicier than those of a lyrical one. In this register the voice of the dramatic baritone sounds confident on forte. Most sonorous this voice is from C3 to F4. A number of parties allow the falsetto sound as a special colouring, for example, in the cavatina in Figaro. A lyric baritone plays heroic lovers who are not seized by the senses but carefully and rationally.

Operatic repertoire:

- Germont - Verdi's "La Traviata" (LB);

- Don Giovanni - Mozart's "Don Giovanni" (LB);

- Venetian Merchant - Rimsky-Korsakov's "Sadko" (LB);

- Onegin - Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin" (LB);

- Yeletsky Tchaikovsky's "The Queen of Spades" (LB);

- Robert Tchaikovsky's "Iolanta".

Artists: Mattia Battistini, Titti Gobbi, Paul Lisitian, Dmytry Gnatiuk, Yuri Gulyaev, Yuri Mazurok, Dietrich Fischer Dieskau, Alexander Voroshilo, Dmitri Khvorostovsky.

Dramatic baritone embodies strong heroes, often treacherous and cruel. Note that these parts were performed by bass-baritones as well (for example, the party of Figaro, Ruslan).

Operatic repertoire:

- Figaro - Mozart "The Marriage of Figaro";

- Rigoletto - Verdi's "Rigoletto";

- Iago - Verdi's "Othello";

- Mizgir - Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Snow Maiden";

- Aleko Rachmaninoff's "Aleko";

- Igor Borodin's "Prince Igor";

- Scarpia - Puccini's "Tosca";

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

- Count di Luna - Verdi's "Il Trovatore."

Performers: Sergei Leiferkus, Titta Ruffo.

Bass-baritone, central bass, bass profundo, bass-buffo

The bass range is the range of a deep male voice expands from F2 to F4-G4. But deep basses - the central and the profundo one can produce some lower notes.

The most sonorous note of a high bass is C3, the working middle range: H2 Flat D3.

The power of central bass sound, the saturation of his lower register increases when compared to the bass-baritone, the C3 sounds stronger than that of a high bass. Parts of this kind of voice widely use central and lower parts of the range. Working midrange is from G2-A2 to C3.

Bass profundo is very rare, so its parts are often performed by central bass. Lower note of the bass profundo is A1. Singers with such voice: P. Robson, M. Mikhailov, Yu Vishnevoy.

Another rare bass voice is the bass oktavio, the low notes of what sound very powerful and full (F1-G1). Such opportunity has, for example, the modern singer Yuri Vishnevoy. This type of voice is nothing but a bass profundo with an extended range and more powerful bottom notes.

Bass-buffo performs the title roles as well as secondary parts, the comic ones and the parts of elderly men. This type of voice shows acting skills on a certain part of its range, but the beauty of timbre or an exquisite technique are not required for them.

Opera repertoire for a bass-baritone:

- Basilio - Rossini's "Barber of Seville";

- Mephistopheles - Gounod's "Faust";

- Nilakanta Delibes 'Lakme';

- Susanin Glinka's "Ivan Susanin";

- Vladimir Galitsky Borodin's "Prince Igor."

Artists: F. Shalyapin, E. Nesterenko, P. Burchuladze, V. Baykov, P. Tolstenko, V. Lynkovsky.

Operatic repertoire for a pcentral bass:

- Konchak - Borodin "Prince Igor";

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

- Viking Merchant - Rimsky-Korsakov "Sadko";

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

- Gryomin - Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin";

- Renee - Tchaikovsky "Iolanta".

Artists: Maxim Mikhailov, Mark Reusen, Leonid Boldin.

Operatic repertoire of a character bass:

- Bartolo - Rossini's "Barber of Seville";

- Cheekbones - Borodin "Prince Igor";

- Duda - Rimsky-Korsakov "Sadko";

- Zuniga - Bizet's "Carmen."