Opera 4.7(1) - Ombra mai fu Serse's aria from Handel's...

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Ombra mai fu, Serse's aria from Handel's Serse Tender and beautiful fronds of my beloved plane tree, Let Fate smile upon you. May thunder, lightning, and storms never bother your dear peace, Nor may you by blowing winds be profaned. Never was made a vegetable (a plant) more dear and loving or gentle. Leslie Leytham, mezzo-soprano Siu Hei Lee, piano Wednesday, April 15, 15
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singer vs. character vs. voice type Wednesday, April 15, 15
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Classifying voice types The Fach system categorizes operatic roles according to tessitura, timbre (on a spectrum from light to dark), and agility (with coloratura being the most agile and, therefore, capable of executing fast-moving runs, trills, and ornaments) required of the part. The Fach system was first codified in Germany in the early twentieth century by singers' unions as a means of protecting individual singers from being assigned by opera houses to roles that would be unsuitable and possibly damaging to their voices. On the basis of range or tessitura, female voices are categorized from low to high as contralto, mezzo soprano, or soprano . Wednesday, April 15, 15
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SOURCE: COTTON, SANDRA, D.M.A. Voice Classification and Fach: Recent, Historical and Conflicting Systems of Voice Categorization. (University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2007) Wednesday, April 15, 15
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Source: Opera by Robert Cannon (Cambridge University Press, 2012). Wednesday, April 15, 15
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Soprano: 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 (such as coloratura soprano, lyric soprano, dramatic soprano, etc.) The term "coloratura" is used to denote (1) florid ornamentation, (2) operatic roles that include lots of highly ornamented passages (3) singers who specialize in florid singing. Watch "Coloratura craziness" for multiple excerpts of arias for coloratura sopranos. Wednesday, April 15, 15
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Mezzo-soprano: 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 trouser roles), to mothers or mother-types, witches, gypsies and old women. Originally the lower female voice was used for secondary roles. Handel, however, wrote more sympathetic roles for the contralto and both female and male characters, while Rossini preferred the lower, mezzo voice and many of his major female roles are written for it Watch Joyce DiDonato sing "Non più mesta" from Rossini's Cenerentola (Cinderella) Watch Stephanie Blythe sing Ulrika's aria from Verdi's Ballo di Maschera (Masked Ball) Contralto: the lowest of the female voice-types. True contralto roles are few and far between.
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  • Fall '08
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  • Julius Caesar, Singing, Soprano, Voice type, Giulio Cesare

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