the baritone is the most common male voice, lower in range than the tenor and more darkly-hued. Although a number of roles in the Mozart canon are best suited to the baritone (like Papageno, Count Almaviva in <em>The Marriage of Figaro</em>, Guglielmo in <em>Così fan tutte</em> or Don Giovanni), a distinction was not made at the time between baritone and bass. We have Verdi to thank for the 'discovery' and codification of the baritone voice-type, so excited was he about the particular color of this voice and its ability to portray many different dramatic qualities. The 'Verdi baritone' is now considered its own voice type, and the singer must have an incredibly dynamic quality, a dark color, 'bite' or 'snarl' in order to carry through the orchestra and the ability to sing lyrically when called upon. In other words, the Verdi baritone must have <em>everything</em>! Roles would include Nabucco, Rigoletto, Simon Boccanegra, Falstaff and Iago. In the Wagner repertoire, roles requiring similar qualities would include Wolfram in <em>Tannhäuser</em>, Kurwenal in <em>Tristan</em> and Gunther in <em>Götterdämmerung</em>. The French are represented by characters such as Escamillo in <em>Carmen</em> and Valentin in <em>Faust</em>."
although there are a number of sub-categories of bass, we will deal with the whole category here in a general way. It is, of course, the lowest and 'darkest' of the male voices and there are characteristic basses in serious operatic literature that are distinct from the comic bass or <em>basso buffo</em> roles. In Mozart, characters from the lower social strata, like servants, were relegated to basses: Leporello in <em>Don Giovanni</em> and Figaro in <em>The Marriage of Figaro</em> are good examples. The 'serious' bass, whose vocal color must carry a sense of nobility and wisdom, is represented by Sarastro in <em>The Magic Flute</em>. For the Italian (serious) repertoire, Fiesco in <em>Simon Boccanegra</em> is a wonderful example, as is Sparafucile in <em>Rigoletto</em>. But comic basses abound in the literature of Rossini: Mustafà in <em>The Italian Girl in Algiers</em> and Dr. Bartolo and Basilio in <em>The Barber of Seville</em>. These basses were expected to have as much vocal flexibility as the <em>leggiero</em> tenors and <em>coloratura</em> mezzos! The French repertoire makes fine distinctions between vocal types of basses, but certainly among the favorite roles are Méphistophélès in <em>Faust</em> and Friar Laurence in <em>Roméo et Juliette</em>. German literature also abounds in basses: Rocco in <em>Fidelio</em>, Hunding and Fafner in <em>The Ring</em>, King Mark in <em>Tristan</em> and Gurnemanz in <em>Parsifal</em>."
a category used to describe those voices with a range between that of the baritone and the bass and referring principally to the requirements of the German repertoire, roles like Wotan in <em>The Ring</em>, Hans Sachs in <em>Die Meistersinger</em> and the Dutchman in <em>The Flying Dutchman</em>. The 'tessitura' or 'lie' of these roles is higher than what a bass can comfortably sing with occasional moments of probing into the bass register and the need for the darkness of color that the bass brings to a role. Other German roles would be Pizarro in <em>Fidelio</em> and The Baptist in <em>Salome</em>. Boris Godunov is a bass-baritone role as well."
the lowest of the female voice-types, this is an extremely rare bird and true contralto roles are few and far between. They include Erda in <em>Der Ring des Nibelungen</em>, Fidés in <em>Le Prophete</em> by Meyerbeer, Ulrica (<em>Un ballo in maschera</em>) and Katisha in <em>The Mikado</em>. Today, because of the lack of true contralto voices (with the remarkable exception of Eva Podlés), many of these parts are taken by mezzos who have a lower extension and a darker color with plenty of 'bite' to slice through the orchestra. (Even Rossini's heroines Rosina and Angelina were first scored for contraltos, though today these roles are essayed almost exclusively by mezzo-sopranos)."
Coloratura mezzo
these are roles which, while demanding the use of a lower register or part of the voice, are also required to be flexible and capable of singing highly ornamented, rapid passages. Many of the hero roles in the operas of Handel, originally sung by male castrati, can be successfully sung today by coloratura mezzo-sopranos (as well as by countertenors, yet another voice type popular today). Ariodante and Julius Caesar are such Handel roles. However, Rossini demanded similar qualities for his comic heroines, Rosina (<em>The Barber of Seville</em>), Angelina (<em>Cinderella</em>) and Isabella (<em>The Italian Girl in Algiers</em>)."
Dramatic mezzo
this voice type was often used, especially in the 19th century, to portray older women, mothers, witches and evil characters. Verdi made much of this voice type: Azucena (<em>Il trovatore</em>), Eboli (<em>Don Carlos</em>) and Amneris (<em>Aida</em>) are all dramatic mezzo roles. In the French literature Carmen stands out. Lighter mezzo roles exist in the German repertoire, like Octavian in <em>Der Rosenkavalier</em>, Cherubino in <em>The Marriage of Figaro</em> (although the role is sung in Italian), Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus and the Composer in <em>Ariadne</em>. Heavier mezzo roles, true dramatic mezzo roles, in the German repertoire include Brangäne in <em>Tristan und Isolde</em>, Kundry in <em>Parsifal</em> (although sometimes sung by a soprano) and Klytemnästra in <em>Elektra</em>."
the mezzo is the lower-ranged female voice type. Throughout opera history the mezzo has been used to convey many different types of characters: everything from boys or young men (so-called <em>trouser</em> roles), to mothers or mother-types, witches, gypsies and old women. There are sub-categories of mezzo-sopranos that can be easily identified:"
Coloratura soprano
a female voice with an 'upper extension' of high notes and a light quality or color which allows the voice to be capable of rapid and highly ornamented passages. The roles of Lakmé, Lucia in <em>Lucia di Lammermoor</em> and Zerbinetta in <em>Ariadne auf Naxos</em> are examples of coloratura soprano roles. There are, however, roles that demand the upper extension and flexibility of voice yet with a heavier quality or darker color. These are dramatic coloratura roles. The role of the Queen of the Night in Mozart's <em>The Magic Flute</em> demands such a voice, as do the Verdi roles of Lady Macbeth and Abagaille in <em>Nabucco</em>."
Dramatic soprano
the 'heaviest' or most darkly-colored of the soprano types. As the name implies, the requirements for this voice type go beyond the lyric repertoire because of the strenuous dramatic demands. In the Italian repertoire, Tosca, Butterfly, Aida, Norma and Leonora (<em>Il trovatore</em>) would be considered dramatic soprano roles. In the German repertoire, Brünnhilde, Sieglinde, Leonore (<em>Fidelio</em>) and Isolde would be considered dramatic soprano roles. The range for the dramatic soprano is generally somewhat lower than the lyric or lyric-<em>spinto</em>, but often she is called upon to sing high passages for dramatic emphasis, making these roles quite strenuous for younger singers."
Lyric soprano
a female voice that is 'silkier' in texture or quality and has a lower range than the coloratura. The role of Micaëla in <em>Carmen</em> is a lyric soprano, as is Pamina in <em>The Magic Flute</em> and, although a bit more demanding, Mimì in <em>La bohème</em>. Heavier lyric roles might include Gounod's Juliette or Marguerite in <em>Faust</em>, Rusalka, the Countess in <em>The Marriage of Figaro</em> and Violetta in <em>La traviata</em>, although the latter role makes great demands in terms of both coloratura and dramatic heft."
the highest of the female voice types, the soprano has always had a place of prominence in the hierarchy of vocal types. In the operatic drama, the soprano is almost always the 'heroine' or protagonist of an opera. As is true of the other voice types, there are sub-categories of soprano, a few of which are listed here:"
Dramatic tenor
also called <em>tenore di forza</em> in Italian, Chénier and Alvaro in <em>La forza del destino</em> are dramatic tenor roles that require a <em>spinto</em> quality, able to carry over heavy orchestral textures with ease. The <em>tenore robusto</em>, however, must carry with it a certain baritonal 'weight' and color: Otello is such a role, and Ernani and Manrico were originally considered as part of the <em>robusto</em> tradition even though the roles are not always cast that way today."
this is the dramatic tenor of the German repertoire, a voice type that must have a distinctive 'ring', weight and spin to portray heroic roles such as Lohengrin (on the lighter side) and Tristan or Siegfried (on the heavier side). One must not forget Florestan in <em>Fidelio</em>, a heroic German role that was a forerunner to the musical and dramatic demands of the Wagnerian roles."
Light-lyric tenor
depending on the repertoire, these voices are often called <em>leggiero</em> tenors or &quot;Rossini&quot; tenors. Roles include Almaviva in <em>The Barber of Seville</em>, Ramiro in <em>Cinderella</em> and Lindoro in <em>The Italian Girl in Algiers</em>. The voice has, like the coloratura soprano, an upper extension of high notes and a lightness of quality that allows for rapid passagework and florid ornamentation."
Lyric tenor
with not quite the high register of the light-lyric tenor, this voice category is well represented in the 19th century repertoire with Elvino in <em>La sonnambula</em>, and Nadir in <em>The Pearl Fishers</em>. Depending on the taste of the impresario or general director of a company, some of the Mozart roles can be sung by lyric tenors: Ferrando in <em>Così fan tutte</em>, Tamino in <em>The Magic Flute</em>, even Don Ottavio in <em>Don Giovanni</em>, although this is usually cast heavier."
Lyric-dramatic tenor
these roles, while still essentially lyric, demand some dramatic color and fire: Rodolfo in <em>La bohème</em>, the Duke in <em>Rigoletto</em>, Alfredo in <em>La traviata</em> and Faust are to be included."
the highest of the male voices, the tenor has as many sub-categories as the soprano."