Soprano Arias


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 a 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.



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 the 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.

Example:  Ileana Cotrubas

Adele * Die Fledermaus Mein Herr Marquis / Spiel ich die Unschuld
Ännchen * Der Freischütz Kommt ein schlanker Burch gegangen / Trübe Augen
Despina * Così fan tutte In uomini / Una donna a quindici anni
Lauretta * Gianni Schicchi O mio babbino caro
Marzellina * Fidelio O wär ich schon mit dir vereint
Musetta * La Bohème Walzer (Quando men’ vo)
Nannetta * Falstaff Sul fil d’un soffio etesio
Susanna * Figaros Hochzeit Rosenarie (Deh vieni non tardar)
Zerlina * Don Giovanni Batti, batti /Vedrai carino
Anna Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor Wohl denn, gefasst ist der Entschluß
Marie Der Waffenschmied Wir armen, armen Mädchen
Marie Zar und Zimmermann Die Eifesucht ist eine Plage / Brautlied



Lyric Coloratura

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.

Singers: Beverly Sills, Lilly Pons, Roberta Peters, Kathleen Battle

Example: Beverly Sills, Capuletti ed i Montecchi

Adele * Die Fledermaus Mein Herr Marquis/Couplet
Blondchen * Die Entführung aus dem Serail Durch Zärtlichkeit und Schmeicheln
Gilda * Rigoletto Caro nome / Tutte le feste
Musetta * La Bohème Walzer (Quando men’ vo)
Norina * Don Pasquale So anch’io la virtù magica
Olympia * Hoffmanns Erzählungen Les oiseau dans la charmille
Rosina * Der Barbier von Sevilla Una voce poco fa
Sofie * Der Rosenkavalier Rosenüberreichung (Presentation of the Rose)
Susanna * Figaros Hochzeit Rosenarie (Deh vieni non tardar)
Zerbinette * Ariadne auf Naxos Großmächtige Prinzessin
Nannetta Falstaff Sul fil d’un soffio etesio
Lauretta Gianni Schicchi O mio babbino caro
Manon Manon Gavotte
Oskar Ein Maskenball Volta la terra / Saper vorreste



Dramatic Coloratura

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.

Singers: Christina Deutekom, Joan Sutherland, June Anderson, Ruth Ann Swenson, Edita Gruberova, and Mariella Devia. Maria Callas and Montserrat Caballe also sang this Fach during their careers.

Example: Christina Deutekom, Die Zauberflöte

Konstanza * Die Ehtführung aus dem Serail Martern aller Arten / Ach ich liebte
Fiordiligi * Così fan tutte Come scoglio immoto resta  / Per pietà, ben mio
Gräfin (Countess) * Figaros Hochzeit Porgi amor / Dove sono i bei momenti
Königin * Die Zauberflöte O zittre nicht / Die Hölle Rache
Rosalinda * Die Fledermaus Czardas (Klänge der Heimat)
Violetta * La Traviata Ah, forse lui / Addio del passato
Frau Fluth Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor Nun, eilt herbei
Donna Elvira Don Giovanni Ah, fuggi il traditor / Mi tradi quell’alma ingrata
Nedda Der Bajazzo (I Pagliacci) Vogellied (Stridono lassù)
Lucia Lucia di Lammermoor Regnava nel silenzio
Margarethe Margarethe (Faust) Schmuckwalzer (Jewel Song)



Full Lyric Soprano

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.

Example: Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, Le nozze di Figaro

Mimi * La Bohème Sì, mi chiamono Mimi / Donda lieta uscì
* Figaros Hochzeit
(Le nozze di Figaro)
Porgi amor/ Dove sono i bei momenti
Antonia * Hoffmanns Erzählungen Elle a fui la tourterelle
Pamina * Die Zauberflöte Ach ich fühl’s
Zdenka Arabella First Act Scene
Michaela Carmen Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante
Lauretta Gianni Schicchi O mio babbino caro
Margarethe Margarethe (Faust) Schmuckwalzer (Jewel Song)
Rusalka Rusalka Mond Lied (Song to the Moon)
Liù Turandot Tu che di gel sei cinta



Spinto Soprano

A metallic voice with good line and power; capable of bringing 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.

Singers: Leontine Price, Gwyneth Jones, Callas, Caballe, Tebaldi, Zinka Milanov, Leontyne Price, Aprile Millo, Susan Dunn, Deborah Voigt, Alessandra Marc, and Sharon Sweet. Cheryl Studer, and Carol Vaness sing roles in the lyric, spinto and coloratura repertories.

Example: Zinka Milanov, Il trovatore

Agathe * Die Freischütz Leise, leise, Fromme Weise! / Und ob die Wolken sie verhülle
Donna Anna * Don Giovanni Non mi dir
Elsa * Lohengrin Traumerzählung (Einsam in trüben Tagen)
Desdemona * Othello Salce / Ave Marie
Leonora * Der Troubadour Tacea la notte placida / D’mor sull’ali rosse
Arabella Arabella Aber der Richhtiger
Marie Die verkaufte Braut Mein Lebenstraum, wie war er schön
Tatajana Eugen Onegin Briefscene (Und sei’ mein Untengang)
Rezia Oberon Ozean-Arie
Elixabeth Tannhauser Dich teure Halle / Allmächt’ge Jungfrau



Zwischenfach voice with fine characterization ability.

Like its male counterpart the Charaktertenor, the Charaktersopran is a specialty 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.

Singers: Mezzos: Shirley Verrett, Grace Bumbry, and Maria Ewing. Sopranos: Regina Resnik, Helga Dernesch


Dramatic Soprano

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 NaxosTosca, 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.

Singers: Eva Marton, Birgit Nilsson, Hildegard Behrens, Eva Marton

Example:  Sena Jurinac, Don Carlo

Aïda * Aïda O Patria mia / Ritorna vincitor
Elisabeth * Don Carlos Tu che le vanità conosce
Leonora * Fidelio Abscheulicher, wo eilst du hin
Donna Anna * Don Giovanni Non mi dir
Elsa * Lohengrin Traumerzählung (Einsam in trüben Tagen)
Leonore * Die Macht des Schicksals Frieden-Arie (Pace, pace)
Tosca * Tosca Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore 
Sieglinde * Die Walküre Wie Waffe laß mich dir weisen / Der Männer Sippe
Ariadne Ariadne auf Naxos Es gibt ein Reich
Santuzza Cavalleria Rusticana Voi lo sapete, o mamma
Butterfly Madama Butterfly Un bel dì
Amelia Ein Maskenball Ecco l’orrido campo / Morrò, ma prima in grazia
Norma Norma Casta diva



Wagnerian Soprano

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.

Singers: Birgit Nilsson, Dame Eva Turner, Eve Marton, Ghena Dimitrova, Gwyneth Jones, Linda Kelm, Kirsten Flagstad

Example: Birgit Nilsson, Götterdämmerung

Senta *Der fliegenden Holländer Ballade (Traf ihr das Schiff)
Brünnhilde *Die Walküre Todesverkündung
Elektra Elektra  
Brünnhilde Die Götterdämmerung Starke Scheite
Brünnhilde Siegfried Heil dir, Sonne
Marta Tiefland Erzählung from the 2nd Act
Isolde Tristan und Isolde Liebestod / Mild und leise
Turandot Turandot In questa reggia