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Soprano – There are several types of soprano: the coloratura soprano has a light, high-pitched voice of great agility (for roles such as Olympia, a clockwork doll, in Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann), the light soprano has an agile voice and is comfortable in the higher register (Susanna in Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro), the lyric soprano, the most common type, has a warmer, stronger voice at a slightly lower pitch (Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust, Mimi in Puccini’s La Bohème, Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata); the soprano spinto or soprano lirico spinto is basically a lyric soprano with strong dramatic ability and enough power to mark certain climaxes (Verdi’s Aïda); lastly, the dramatic soprano has a voice that is powerful throughout its range, energetic and full of character.

Mezzo-soprano – The range of the mezzo-soprano lies between the soprano and contralto voices. A high mezzo voice is often identical to a dramatic soprano or soprano spinto, and many roles can be performed by either type. A coloratura mezzo-soprano has a warm lower register and an agile high register (Rosina in Rossini’s Barber of Seville), whereas a dramatic mezzo-soprano has a strong medium register, a warm high register and a voice that is generally broader and more powerful (Amnéris in Verdi’s Aida).

Contralto – The lowest women’s voice, with a compass of around two octaves. It is warm and rich, with a generous and noble timbre. Despite its apparent heaviness, the contralto voice is capable of great agility.

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