THE SOPRANO VOICE
The young soprano generally falls into three categories: Soubrette, lyric and dramatic. The Soubrette voice is further classified as to whether or not she has good coloratura and an extended high register. A Soubrette will always be a Soubrette even if her voice picks up size with age. Her physical size and way of moving on stage keeps a 45 or 50 year old Soubrette singing the younger sister roles. The singer with the German lyric voice has an Italian warmth and beautiful line to her singing. This does not mean, however that she only sings Italian opera or that all the Italian roles are hers. Her physical appearance has more warmth and womanly appeal; she is not a coquette and tends to be physically larger than the Soubrette. The singer with a dramatic voice must have metallic ring, noble line and command the stage physically.
Those arias most often heard in German Theater auditions are marked with *. Those arias heard in audition but not normally sung by the singer of this Fach in the opera house are given in parenthesis.
DEUTSCHE SOUBRETTE (c' to c''')
A mellow, supple voice; delicate physical appearance; an excellent actress.
The Soubrette is the operatic equivalent of the Broadway ingénue. It is important that a singer of this category have an excellent command of the German language, since many of the roles for this voice include extensive dialogue and/or recitative. It is extremely important that the voice be fairly full since much of her singing lies in the middle voice. For this reason, it is best to think of the Deutsche Soubrette as the German equivalent of the young American lyric soprano, a warm soprano voice with a range from C to C. The most typical role for the Deutsche Soubrette is Ännchen in Der Freischütz. Her voice must be flexible but it is not necessary to have he extreme high notes. She must look like a younger sister and have a lively personality, yet her voice must be strong enough to balance Agathe's in the ensembles. Other typical roles for the Soubrette include Marzelline in Fidelio, Despina in Così fan tutte, and Musetta in La Bohème. She might also sing many of the roles which are listed in the Koloratursopran Fach, provided her voice as the high notes and is flexible enough.
A very flexible, bright voice with an extended top register.
The main difference between this Koloratursopran and the Deutsche Soubrette is the ability to sing extremely high notes, fast coloratura passages, and to have a somewhat brighter sound. Her temperament, language facility and acting ability, are identical to that of the Deutsche Soubrette. Typical roles for this Fach are Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, Blondchen in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Norina in Don Pasquale, and Olympia in Hoffmanns Erzählungen.
A flexible voice with an extended upper range, a noble lyric line, and capable of dramatic outbursts.
This is a very special Fach and one which is not easily understood by Americans. The ability to sing coloratura passages is important, as it is with the Koloratursoubrette, but the voice must have the beautiful line of the Lyrischersopran as well as being capable of dramatic outbursts. Typical roles include Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, Violetta in La Traviata and Kostanza in Die Entführung aus dem Serail. The role of the Königin der Nacht in Die Zauberflöte is a specialty role and is not necessarily sung by all singers of this Fach. This voice is also usually asked to sing the Italian roles which include heavier music for the coloratura voice. The type of character portrayed is often a loftier figure than that presented by the Lyrischersopran or the Soubrette. It is possible for a singer of the Dramatischerkoloratursopran Fach to move into the true Lyrischersopran Fach later in her career if her vocal and physical size permit it.
The girlfriend category. A supple voice with a beautiful mellow quality and a noble line.
This name is deceptive for Americans. Lyrischer (lyric) does not mean, in this instance, light, but rather the ability to sustain lines with more voice and full legato line than the singers of the spiel Fach. This is in reality the German equivalent of the American spinto soprano. The important roles in this Fach are: Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Mimi in La Bohème, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus, and Michaela in Carmen. In regards to appearance, the Lyrischersopran must have a somewhat softer, more sympathetic personality than the Soubrettes; she should be attractive, appealing, and very feminine on stage. Although it is unlikely for the mature Lyrischersopran to move into a heavier Fach (the voice lacks the metallic ring of the dramatic Fach) a young singer of the Jugendlicher-dramatischersopran Fach often will sing some of the roles of the Lyrischersopran repertoire.
A metallic voice with good line and power; capable of bring moments of dramatic intensity.
This is the Fach which is most important for the German repertoire, yet we do not even have an equivalent English name which is in common usage. It is best thought of as a heavy spinto soprano. The roles which are most important include Agathe in Der Freischütz, Elizabeth in Tannhäuser, and Elsa in Lohengrin. In general the appearance of this person must be beautiful on stage and as often as not, quite Teutonic, With a few exceptions, the roles for this voice are somewhat static, and do not require the acting ability of the Soubrette. They do, however, require great emotional intensity, and, above all he ability to sing long vocal lines in heavy ensembles without becoming tired or strained. This is truly a young-dramatic voice that often moves into the dramatic Fach later in her career.
A Zwischenfach voice with fine characterization ability.
Like its male counterpart the Charaktertenor, the Charaktersopran is a speciality Fach that one very seldom encounters in all but the largest opera houses in Europe. The term Zwischenfach means the voice combines the lyric qualities of the Lyrischersopran and the dramatic ability of the Jugendlich-dramatischer voice. While she sings all the great Puccini soprano roles: Manon, Mimi, Tosca, Angelica and Butterfly, she may also take on some traditional mezzo role such as Carmen and the Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos. It is often the case that the Charaktersopran may have started her career as a mezzo and moved up to the soprano roles. Her German repertoire demands the dramatic intensity of a Salome or the F�rberin in Die Frau ohne Schatten, her French repertoire includes such roles as Melisande and Mignon that require sensitivity and a fine sense of characterization. This is not a beginner's Fach but is arrived at only after many years of professional singing.
A large, metallic voice with great dramatic penetrating power.
The dramatic soprano in the German-speaking opera houses has the responsibility for performing the big Verdi roles, such as Aïda, Amelia in Un ballo in maschera and Leonore in La forza del destino. She also sings the title roles in Ariadne auf Naxos, Tosca, and Fidelio. Singing ability takes precedence over visual effectiveness in this Fach, but she should be a person capable of great emotional depth. Her vocal quality is dominated by an intense metallic ring and great volume.
A large, heavy and projecting instrument with well developed middle and low registers.
We generally include much of the repertoire of the dramatic soprano when we think of this Fach. It should, however, be reserved in the German theater system for only the extremely taxing roles, such as Isolde, Brünnhilde, and Elektra. This woman should be big vocally and physically. The ability to sustain extremely long vocal lines over a full orchestra is the first prerequisite. Again, this is a Fach arrived at after years of professional singing.