Highest Range of the Dames: Soprano

The soprano has the highest range of the female voice types, in fact the highest range of all the voice types. The following aspects are characteristic of her voice type:

  • Range: Often Middle C to High C, although some sopranos can vocalize way beyond High C and much lower than Middle C (see following illustration).

    A soprano is expected to have a High C, and many sopranos can sing up to the G or A above High C. Choral directors or musical directors listen for the singer’s comfort zone when determining whether the singer is a soprano. Although a mezzo can reach some of these higher notes, a soprano is capable of singing high notes more frequently than a mezzo.

  • Register transitions: The transitions usually occur as the soprano shifts out of chest voice around the E-flat just above Middle C and into her head voice around F-sharp (fifth line on top of the staff) in the octave above Middle C.

  • Strength: A soprano’s strength is a strong head voice.

  • Voice tone: The soprano voice is usually bright and ringing.

  • Weakness: Sopranos have a hard time projecting in middle voice.

    Soprano subdivisions in the classical world include light lyric, full lyric, light lyric coloratura, full lyric coloratura, light dramatic coloratura, full dramatic coloratura, light dramatic (or spinto), and full dramatic.

  • Soprano belter: A soprano belter has an easier time managing her chest voice for belting and usually belts higher than a mezzo. Check out these names to hear some soprano belters: Betty Buckley, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera, Aretha Franklin, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, and Jennifer Hudson.

  • Common performance roles: The soprano is usually the lead in the show, such as Ariel in The Little Mermaid, Marian the Librarian in The Music Man, Tosca in Tosca, Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, and Mimi in La Bohème.

  • Naming names: Famous sopranos you may know include Julie Andrews, Sarah Brightman, Kristin Chenoweth, Renée Fleming, Beyoncé Knowles, Audra McDonald, Olivia Newton John, and Dolly Parton.

    Soprano range.
    Soprano range.
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