|Voice Type||Video||Extracted from|
C. MacNeil, I. Cotrubas- Si, vendetta
Jose Van Dam
Jose Van Dam - Madamina, il catalogo
Kurt Moll - In diesen heil'gen Hallen
Baritone--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 The Marriage of Figaro, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte 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 everything! Roles would include Nabucco, Rigoletto, Simon Boccanegra, Falstaff and Iago. In the Wagner repertoire, roles requiring similar qualities would include Wolfram in Tannhäuser, Kurwenal in Tristan and Gunther in Götterdämmerung. The French are represented by characters such as Escamillo in Carmen and Valentin in Faust.
Bass-baritone--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 The Ring, Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger and the Dutchman in The Flying Dutchman. 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 Fidelio and The Baptist in Salome. Boris Godunov is a bass-baritone role as well.
Bass--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 basso buffo roles.
In Mozart, characters from the lower social strata, like servants, were
relegated to basses: Leporello in Don Giovanni and Figaro in The Marriage of
Figaro are good examples. The 'serious' bass, whose vocal color must carry a
sense of nobility and wisdom, is represented by Sarastro in The Magic Flute. For
the Italian (serious) repertoire, Fiesco in Simon Boccanegra is a wonderful
example, as is Sparafucile in Rigoletto. But comic basses abound in the
literature of Rossini: Mustafà in The Italian Girl in Algiers and Dr. Bartolo
and Basilio in The Barber of Seville. These basses were expected to have as much
vocal flexibility as the leggiero tenors and coloratura mezzos! The French
repertoire makes fine distinctions between vocal types of basses, but certainly
among the favorite roles are Méphistophélès in Faust and Friar Laurence in
et Juliette. German literature also abounds in basses: Rocco in Fidelio, Hunding
and Fafner in The Ring, King Mark in Tristan and Gurnemanz in Parsifal.
|Soprano||Mezzo / Contralto||Tenor|
(c) Text reproduced with permission from www.operapaedia.org and San Diego Opera