Mezzo and Alto Arias


For the young female singer with a lower voice, the choice of Fach is relatively easy. The mezzo-soprano is classified as either lyric or dramatic. The singer of the Lyrischer Mezzosopran (or Spielalt), like the soprano Soubrette, must have a youthful appearance and a lighter, flexible voice with a warm quality. The dramatic mezzo has a louder voice with a metallic bite. Physically she must command more authority on stage and must not necessarily have the youthful appearance of the Lyrischer Mezzosopran. The Dramatischeralt voice is the true dramatic of the lower women’s voices. Her voice is a dark, heavy instrument, with metallic coloring and a well-developed top and bottom ranges. Her repertoire is similar to the dramatic mezzo but leaves off he lighter higher, youthful repertoire. The true low alto (Tieferalt) is a rarity in opera. Her duties include only the lowest roles, with Verdi and Wagner making up the bulk of her repertoire.

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.


Lyric Mezzo
A flexible, expressive voice; an excellent actress.

Although the name Lyrischer Mezzosopran would lead one to believe that this Fach belongs to the Lyric voices The older name of Spielalt better describes his voice in relation to the other voice categories. She is the mezzo counterpart of the Soubrette. Her voice is a flexible, mellow instrument lacking the metallic ring and broad legato line. Her vocal color in the German theater can often be rather light, sounding almost like a soprano. She should look good in pants and be willing to sing quite a few roles of lesser importance. The important roles for a Lyrischer Mezzosopran are Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, the Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos, and Rosina in Der Barbier von Sevilla. Although a Lyrischer Mezzosopran with a fuller voice may use the Carmen arias in audition, she rarely sings this role in a full production.

Singers: Frederica von Stade,  Lucia Valentini-Ferrani,  Cecilia Bartoli, Jennifer Larmore, Suzanne Mentzer and  Theodora Hanslowe.

Examples: Frederica von Stade, Semiramide


Lucia Valentini-Ferrani, La Cenerentola

Komponist * Ariadne auf Naxos Sein wir wieder gut
Rosina * Der Barbier von Sevilla Una voce poco fa
(Dorabella) * Così fan tutte Smanie implacabili
Cherubino * Figaros Hochzeit Non so più cosa son Voi che sapete
Orlofsky * Die Fledermaus Ich lade gern Gäste ein
Niklaus * Hoffmanns Erzählungen Couplet (Une poupèe aux yeux d’èmail)
(Carmen) Carmen Habanera / Seguidilla Karten-Arie (Card Scene)
Cenerentola Cenerentola Non più mesta
Preziosilla Die Macht des Schicksals Alfred suon del tamburo
Siebel Margarethe (Faust) Faites-lui mes aveux
Sextus Titus (La clemenza di Tito) Parto, parto
Charlotte Werther Va! laisse couler mes larmes



Dramatic Mezzo I

A flexible, metallic Zwischenfach voice with a good top register and a dark color that often develops with age into the dramatic alto Fach.

The Dramatischermezzosopran sings some of the meatiest roles in all of opera. The title role in Carmen, Eboli in Don Carlos, Amneris in Aïda, Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier, and Fricke in Die Walküre. Being a Zwischenfach voice means she is capable of both long lyric lines as well as dramatic moments. Her roles demand great physical beauty and vocal power, and the ability to hold the stage alone with authority.

Singers: Fiorenza Cassotto, Christa Ludwig, Rise Stevens, Giulietta Simionato, Tatiana Troyanos, Maria Ewing, Marilyn Horne.

Examples: Fiorenza Cassotto, Le nozze di Figaro;

Christa Ludwig, Des Knaben Wunderhorn

Eboli * Don Carlos O don fatale
Dorabella * Così fan tutte Smanie implacabili
Leonora * La Favorita O mio Fernando
Waltraute * Götterdämmerung Erzählung (Höre mit Sinn)
Orturd * Lohengrin Entweite Götter
Octavian * Der Rosenkavalier Wie Du warst (duet)
Dalila * Samson und Dalila All three arias
Fricka * Die Walküre Wo in Bergen du  dich birgst
Carmen Carmen Habanera / Seguidilla / Karten-Arie (Card Scene)
Venus Tannhäuser Geliebter, komm
Sextus Titus (La Clamenzo di Tito) Parto, parto



Dramatic Mezzo II
A flexible, metallic voice with a well developed top and bottom register, capable of dramatic intensity.

The Dramatischeralt is the true dramatic among the lower women’s voices and is often combined with the Tieferalt. It is a Fach generally reserved for the more mature singer. In addition to the dramatic roles of Ulrica in Ein Maskenball, Azucena in Der Troubadour, and Herodias in Salome, it contains many smaller roles demanding fine characterization.

Singers: Francis Bible, Christa Ludwig, Brigitte Fassbander, and Waltraud Meier. Ebe Stignani, Fedora Barbieri, Fiorenza Cassotto, Shirley Verrett, Grace Bumbry, and Dolora Zaxick.

Example: Francis Bible, The Ballad of Baby Doe

Waltraute * Götterdämmerung Erzählung (Höre mit Sinn)
Ulrica * Ein Maskenball Re del’ablisso, affrettati
Erda * Das Rheingold Weiche Wotan, weiche
Dalila * Samson et Dalila All three arias
Azucena * Der Troubadour Stride la vampa
Carmen Carmen Habanera / Seguidilla / Karten-Arie (Card Scene)
Orpheus Orpheus und Eurudike Ach ich habe Sie verloren (Che farò senza Eurudice)




A full, rich voice with an extended bottom range.

This is a rather special category and an important one. While it can include the great roles listed for the Dramatischeralt, it contains many roles demanding an extensive low voice and a mature appearance. In this Fach we find the roles of Zita in Gianni Schicchi, Erda in Das Rheingold, Dame Quickly in Falstaff and the Dritte Dame (Third Lady) in Die Zauberflöte.

Singers: Florence Quivar, Kathleen Ferrier.

Example: Marga Hoffgen, Das Rheingold

Ulrica * Ein Maskenball Re del’ablisso, affrettati
Erda * Das Rheingold Weiche Wotan, weiche
Dalila * Samson und Dalila All three arias
Azucena * Der Troubadour Stride la vampa
Carmen Carmen Habanera / Seguidilla / Karten-Arie (Card Scene)
Orpheus Orpheus und Eurudike Ach ich habe Sie verloren (Che farò senza Eurudice)