The German Fach system (German pronunciation: [fax]; literally "compartment" or "subject of study", here in the sense of "vocal specialization") is a method of classifying singers, primarily opera singers, according to the range, weight, and color of their voices. It is used worldwide, but primarily in Europe, especially in German-speaking countries and by repertory opera houses.[1]

The Fach system is a convenience for singers and opera houses. It prevents singers from being asked to sing roles which they are incapable of performing, or roles for which their vocal timbre is dramatically unsuited. Opera companies keep lists of available singers by Fach so that when they are casting roles for an upcoming production, they do not inadvertently contact performers who would be inappropriate for the part.[2]

Below is a list of Fächer (German pronunciation: [ˈfɛçɐ]), their ranges as written on sheet music, and roles generally considered appropriate to each. When two names for the Fach are given, the first is in more common use today. Where possible, an English and/or Italian equivalent of each Fach is listed; however, not all Fächer have ready English or Italian equivalents. Note that some roles can be sung by more than one Fach and that many singers do not easily fit into a Fach: for instance some sopranos may sing both Koloratursopran and Dramatischer Koloratursopran roles. In addition, roles traditionally more difficult to cast may be given to a voice other than the traditional Fach. For instance, the "Queen of the Night" and "Violetta" are more traditionally dramatic coloratura roles, but it is difficult to find a dramatic coloratura to sing it (particularly given the extreme range). Therefore, these roles are often sung by a lyric coloratura.

Soprano Fächer edit

Lyrischer Koloratursopran / Koloratursoubrette edit

 

Dramatischer Koloratursopran edit

 

One must not mistake the Mozartian dramatic coloratura soprano with the Italian dramatic coloratura soprano. A singer that sings Konstanze, Donna Anna or Fiordiligi can not necessarily sing the Italian dramatic coloratura parts, due to other vocal demands. Imogene, Leonora and Violetta require a dramatic soprano voice and are most often sung by dramatic sopranos with an agile voice that can easily produce coloratura and high notes. Roles like Norma, Lady Macbeth, Odabella or Abigaille are good examples of Italian roles that are not necessarily a coloratura soprano (even though the score calls for coloratura singing), but a full bodied dramatic soprano with a voice that can handle extreme dramatic singing and that is flexible enough to sing coloratura. Giuseppe Verdi wrote many parts like this in his early years.

Deutsche Soubrette / Charaktersopran edit

 

Lyrischer Sopran edit

 
  • English equivalent: lyric soprano
  • Range: From about B below middle C (B3) to the C two octaves above middle C (C6)
  • Description: A more supple soprano, capable of legato, portamento, and some agility; generally has a more soulful and sensuous quality than a soubrette, who tends to be largely flirtatious and somewhat tweety. The voice is very common; thus the purity and character of the basic timbre is essential. It is the "basic" soprano voice which is at neither extremes of the soprano range of voices; it is not known for having particular vocal attributes such as power, stamina, technical prowess, or agility. However, there are several lyric sopranos that possess a quantity of many of these vocal attributes, thus allowing them to sing a broader variety of roles. Nevertheless, the core of the true fundamentally lyric voice does not encompass such traits. Innocence, vulnerability and pathos are usually conveyed in the music written for the characters portrayed by the lyric soprano because of this endearing simplicity. This fach is also famous because the voices usually remain especially fresh until advanced age.
  • Roles:

Jugendlich dramatischer Sopran edit

 

Dramatischer Sopran edit

 

Hochdramatischer Sopran edit

 
  • English equivalent: High dramatic soprano
  • Range: From about the F below middle C (F3) to the C two octaves above middle C (C6)
  • Description: A voice capable of answering the demands of operas of Wagner's maturity. The voice is substantial, very powerful, and even throughout the registers. It is immense, stentorian and even larger than the voice of the "normal" dramatic soprano. Although the two voices are comparable and are sometimes hard to distinguish between, this voice has even greater stamina, endurance and volume than the former. The top register is very strong, clarion and bright. Successful hochdramatische are rare.
  • Roles:

Mezzo-soprano Fächer edit

Koloratur-Mezzosopran edit

 

Lyrischer Mezzosopran / Spielalt edit

 

Dramatischer Mezzosopran edit

 


Contralto Fächer edit

Dramatischer Alt edit

 
200pxl

Tiefer Alt edit

Tenor Fächer edit

Spieltenor / Tenor buffo edit

 
  • English equivalent: (lyric) comic tenor. It is quite possible for a young Spieltenor to eventually work into the lighter lyrischer Tenor category; the deciding factor will be the beauty of voice.
  • Range: From about low C (C3) to the B an octave above middle C (B4)
  • Roles:

Charaktertenor edit

 

Lyrischer Tenor edit

 

Jugendlicher Heldentenor edit

 

Heldentenor edit

 

Baritone Fächer edit

Bariton / Baryton-Martin edit

  • Italian: baritono leggero
  • English equivalent: light baritone
  • Range: From the low C (C3) to the B above middle C (B4)[23]
  • Description: The Baryton-Martin, named after Jean-Blaise Martin (sometimes referred to as Light Baritone)[24] lacks the lower G2–B2 range a heavier baritone is capable of, and has a lighter, almost tenor-like quality.

Lyrischer Bariton / Spielbariton edit

 

Kavalierbariton edit

 

Charakterbariton edit

 
  • Italian: baritono verdiano
  • English equivalent: Verdi baritone
  • Range: From about the A below low C (A2) to the G above middle C (G4)
  • Description: A voice particularly effective with passages in its higher reaches. A high tessitura vis-a-vis the range extremes. A Verdi baritone refers to a voice capable of singing consistently and with ease in the highest part of the baritone range, sometimes extending up to the C above middle C (C5 or high C). The Verdi baritone will generally have a lot of squillo, or "ping"
  • Roles:

Heldenbariton edit

 

Lyrischer Bassbariton / Low lyric baritone edit

 
  • English equivalent: lyric bass-baritone
  • Range: From about the G below low C (G2) to the F above middle C (F4)
  • Description: The bass-baritone's required range can vary tremendously based on the role, with some less demanding than others. Some bass-baritones are baritones, while others are basses.

Dramatischer Bassbariton / Low dramatic baritone edit

 
  • English equivalent: dramatic bass-baritone
  • Range: From about the G below low C (G2) to the F above middle C (F4)
  • Roles:

Bass Fächer edit

Basso cantante / Lyric bass-bariton / High lyric bass edit

 
  • English equivalent: lyric bass-baritone or singing bass
  • Range: From about the E below low C (E2) to the F above middle C (F4)
  • Basso cantante means 'singing bass'.[28]

Hoher Bass / Dramatic bass-baritone / High dramatic bass edit

 
  • English equivalent: dramatic bass-baritone
  • Range: From about the E below low C (E2) to the F above middle C (F4)

Jugendlicher Bass edit

 
  • English equivalent: young bass
  • Range: From about the E below low C (E2) to the F above middle C (F4)
  • Description: A young man (regardless of the age of the singer).

Spielbass / Bassbuffo / Lyric buffo edit

 

Schwerer Spielbass / Dramatic buffo edit

 

Lyrischer seriöser Bass edit

 

Dramatischer seriöser Bass edit

 

References edit

  1. ^ "How to Determine Singing Range and Vocal Fach (Voice Type)". SingWise. Retrieved 2021-08-18.
  2. ^ Scott-Stoddart, Nina. "The Fach system of vocal classification". Halifax Opera Festival. Retrieved 2021-08-18.
  3. ^ a b c d Kloiber 2002, p. 899.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Kloiber 2002, p. 900.
  5. ^ "Opera Roles from Siegfried". Opera-Arias.com. Retrieved 2023-09-18.
  6. ^ a b c Anthony, Legge. The art of auditioning. Rhinegold publishing limited. p. 55. ISBN 0946890242.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Kloiber 2002, p. 901.
  8. ^ "Opera Roles from La Bohème". Opera-Arias.com. Retrieved 2023-09-18.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Kloiber 2002, p. 902.
  10. ^ "Opera Roles from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg". Opera-Arias.com. Retrieved 2023-09-18.
  11. ^ "Opera Roles from The Queen of Spades". Opera-Arias.com. Retrieved 2023-09-18.
  12. ^ "Opera Roles from Der Rosenkavalier". Opera-Arias.com. Retrieved 2023-09-18.
  13. ^ "Opera Roles from Les Contes d'Hoffmann". Opera-Arias.com. Retrieved 2023-09-18.
  14. ^ "Opera Roles from Salome". Opera-Arias.com. Retrieved 2023-09-18.
  15. ^ a b c d Anthony, Legge. The art of auditioning. Rhinegold publishing limited. p. 56. ISBN 0946890242.
  16. ^ Anthony, Legge. The art of auditioning. Rhinegold publishing limited. ISBN 0946890242.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Kloiber 2002, p. 903.
  18. ^ a b c d Kloiber 2002, p. 905.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kloiber 2002, p. 906.
  20. ^ a b c d e f Kloiber 2002, p. 907.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Kloiber 2002, p. 908.
  22. ^ McGinnis 2010, p. 257
  23. ^ John Warrack and Ewan West, The Oxford Dictionary of Opera, 2nd edition, 1992. ISBN 0-19-869164-5
  24. ^ Huizenga, Tom (14 December 2011). "Talk Like An Opera Geek: Breaking Down Baritones". Deceptive Cadence. NPR.
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Kloiber 2002, p. 909.
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Kloiber 2002, p. 910.
  27. ^ Facsimile of score of Lulu from Universal Edition
  28. ^ Bass Guide, BBC Wales
  29. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Kloiber 2002, p. 911.
  30. ^ a b c d e f g Kloiber 2002, p. 912.
  31. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kloiber 2002, p. 913.

Bibliography edit