What Is Opera?
Like other dramatic works, operas tell stories on stage. The grand themes and over dramatic characters are portrayed almost entirely through music. Dialogue and monologues are sung, making them duets and arias, respectively. Their booming voices, ranging from soprano to bass, are powerful enough to fill an entire auditorium or theatre without the use of microphones.
Opera is divided into roughly seven different voice types with multiple subdivisions within each. Here, we’ll explore some of the basics.
Soprano- A soprano, affectionately called “sop”, is a female with the highest singing parts in operas, and, more often than not, is a leading role.
Mezzo-Soprano- Abbreviated mezzo, a mezzo-soprano is a mid-range female singer. She is more often a supporting character in the story and is sometimes even a breeches role (dressed and acting like a man).
Contralto- A contralto has the lowest range for females and is also uncommon in most operas.
Countertenor- A countertenor, or simply “counter”, is the highest male part, rivaling female contraltos. They typically sing in falsetto, using their head voice to reach the high notes.
Tenor- Tenors are the highest male part not using the head voice. They often are leading characters who end up getting the leading lady.
Baritone- A baritone is the common middle male voice.
Bass- The bass is the lowest male voice.