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A coloratura soprano is a type of operatic soprano voice that specializes in music that is distinguished by agile runs, leaps and trills.

The term "coloratura" refers to the elaborate ornamentation of a melody, which is a typical component of the music written for this voice. Within the coloratura category, there are roles written specifically for lighter voices known as lyric coloraturas and others for larger voices known as dramatic coloraturas. Categories within a certain vocal range are determined by the size, weight and color of the voice.


Lyric coloratura sopranoEdit

A very agile light voice with a high upper extension, capable of fast vocal coloratura. Lyric coloraturas have a range of approximately middle C (C4) to "high F" (F6). Such a soprano is sometimes referred to as a soprano leggero if her vocal timbre has a slightly warmer quality. The soprano leggero also typically does not go as high as other coloraturas, peaking at a "high E" (E6).[1] Bel canto roles were typically written for this voice, and a wide variety of other composers have also written coloratura parts. Baroque music, early music and baroque opera also have many roles for this voice.[2]

Lyric coloratura soprano roles[2]Edit

Dramatic coloratura sopranoEdit

A coloratura soprano with great flexibility in high-lying velocity passages, yet with great sustaining power comparable to that of a full spinto or dramatic soprano. Dramatic coloraturas have a range of approximately "low B" (B3) to "high F" (F6). Various dramatic coloratura roles have different vocal demands for the singer – for instance, the voice that can sing Abigail (Nabucco, Verdi) is unlikely to also sing Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor, Donizetti), but a factor in common is that the voice must be able to convey dramatic intensity as well as flexibility. Roles written specifically for this kind of voice include the more dramatic Mozart and bel canto female roles and early Verdi.[3] This is a rare vocal fach, as thick vocal cords are needed to produce the large, dramatic notes, which usually lessens the flexibility and acrobatic abilities of the voice.

Dramatic coloratura soprano roles[2]Edit

Soprano acuto sfogatoEdit

In rare instances, some coloratura sopranos are able to sing above high F (F6) with great ease. These coloraturas are sometimes referred to as sopranos acuto sfogato.[4]

Although both lyric and dramatic coloraturas can be acuto sfogato sopranos, the primary attribute of the acuto sfogato soprano is an upper extension above F6.[5] Examples of acuto sfogato sopranos who regularly sang high notes above F6 include Ingeborg Hallstein, Mado Robin, Erna Sack, and the legendary Aloysia Weber. Many famous high coloratura sopranos such as Lily Pons, Toti Dal Monte, Rita Streich, and Amelita Galli-Curci, would not be classified as classic acuto sfogato sopranos because they did not sing in public above F6.

The soprano acuto sfogato is sometimes confused with the soprano sfogato, a singer (often mezzo-soprano) capable, by sheer industry or natural talent, of extending her upper range to encompass some of the coloratura soprano tessitura.

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Dolmetsch Online – Music Dictionary Vm–Vz
  2. ^ a b c Boldrey 1994, various
  3. ^ Coffin 1960, p. ?
  4. ^ Apel 1968[page needed]
  5. ^ Vox Mentor – Voice Categories

Cited sources

Other sources

  • Boldrey, Richard; Robert Caldwell; Werner Singer; Joan Wall; Roger Pines (1992). Singer's Edition (Light Lyric Soprano): Operatic Arias – Light Lyric Soprano. Caldwell Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1-877761-02-7. 
  • Boldrey, Richard; Robert Caldwell; Werner Singer; Joan Wall; Roger Pines (1992). Singer's Edition (Soubrette): Operatic Arias – Soubrette. Caldwell Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1-877761-03-4.