Sunday, March 27, 2011



Wikipedia says that some sopranos are sometimes referred to as a soprano leggiero if her vocal timbre has a slightly warmer quality. The soprano leggiero also typically does not go as high as other coloraturas, peaking at a "high E" (E6).[1] Bel canto roles were typically written for this voice, and a wide variety of other composers have also written coloratura parts. Baroque music, early music and baroque opera also have many roles for this voice.[2]

YouTube Sample Title: Don Pasquale Contest - Kathleen Battle

Kathleen Battle sings Norina's Cavatina in Act 1 of Donizetti's Don Pasquale as a sample of soprano leggiero. Do not be worried or confused if you discover my listing the same aria or same role in two different role camps, rather delight in the variety of interpretations that these roles enjoy. Compare the lyric coloratura leggiero of Erna Berger's Martern Aller Arten, with the heavy monumental dramatic coloratura interpretation of Joan Sutherland's Martern Aller Arten, You will find Erna Berger a much sweeter and meeker Konstanze than the mighty Joan Sutherland.

In dramatic terms, Erna Berger's interpretation works out a lot better than Joan Sutherland's, not in voice, I repeat, but more in story. Erna Berger is more polar to her taciturn and powerful master Selim Pasha, who has a non-singing role and her soft voice will blend much better with the other singers who are of a lighter mold, like the soubrette Blondchen and the two tenors, one lyrical and the other a tenor buffo. Having said that, I will still choose Joan Sutherland's dramatic "Martern aller Arten" as a song to be sung in a concert to show off the virtuosity of Mozart!


1. Selected Soprano Leggiero Roles from the BAROQUE period: Couldn't find any! Perhaps this is not a place for soprano leggieros! I need to do a little more research into this.
    2. Selected Soprano Leggiero Roles from the CLASSICAL period
    • QUEEN OF THE NIGHT- Mozart, The Magic Flute
    • KONSTANZE- Mozart, The Abduction from the Seraglio
    • ROLE - Composer, Opera
    3. Selected Soprano Leggiero Roles from the ROMANTIC period
    • ADELE - Johann Strauss, Die Fledermaus
    • ALAIDE - Bellini, La Straniera
    • CIO-CIO-SAN- Puccini, Madame Butterfly
    • NELLY -Bellini, Adelson e Salvini
    • NORINA- Donizetti, Don Pasquale
    • VIOLETTA- Verdi, La Traviata
    • ZAIRA - Bellini, Zaira
     4. Selected Soprano Leggiero Roles from the MODERN period
    • MÉLISANDE- Debussy, Pelléas et Mélisande 
    • SOPHIE- Richard Strauss, Der Rosenkavalier
    • Kathleen BATTLE (13 Aug 1948-) African American leggiero soprano. Light, agile voice, silvery pure tone. More of a concert singer (Masses, oratorios, lieder, etc.) than an opera singer. She won a Grammy for her performance of Rachmaninoff's "In the Silence of the Secret Night" at a farewell concert in honor of Marian Anderson. She still sings an occasional aria. Here she is in O Mio Babbino Caro. Now for some real exciting stuff! Listen to Kathleen sing "Das Veilchen", a song that Mozart set to a poem by the young Romantic poet Goethe. Read this blog for more information. Gems like these are often overlooked in Mozart's prolific work. This deserves a special page one day!
    • Erna BERGER (19 Oct 1900-14 Jun 1990) German coloratura lyric soprano leggiero. Most famous for her roles of KONSTANZE (Marten aller Arten) and the QUEEN OF NIGHT (Die Hölle Rache and O Zittre Nicht). Hear her as SOPHIE in the final scene (duet) of Der Rosenkavalier with Elisabeth Grümmer. A pure steady lyrical voice of great beauty and flexibility.
    • Toti DAL MONTE (27 June 1893-26 Jan 1975) Italian born as Antonietta Meneghel. Best remembered for her sweet and limpid voice as the Japanese geisha Cio-Cio-San in Madame Butterfly. Here she is with Beniamino Gigli in the love duet "Vieni la sera" (Here comes the Night) from the opera, plus the famous aria Un bel di, vedremo. These are truly a beautiful performances. I hope you are as spellbound as I was when listening to this! I was inspired to create a special page for the lyrics to Un bel di, vedremo.
    • Renata SCOTTO (24 Feb 1900-) Italian famous for her Violetta in Traviata (with a softer soprano leggiero coloratura voice) and her specializion in the bel canto repertoire, with excursions into verisimo and as mentioned, Verdi repertoires.Let's hear her bel canto first: in selections from Bellini's Zaira (1976), La Straniera (1968), Adelson e Salvini, One more Bellini piece "Ah non credea mirarti" from la Sonnambula, originally a mezzo-soprano role. Now for eye-candy, the duet with a young and very dashing Carreras as Alberto. Here we see a softer Violetta than the dramatic sopranos Sutherland and Callas, yet utterly believable as an older woman dying of consumption and in love with a younger man. Listen to her sing Sempre Libera. Her voice is a palette of soft colors, perfect for the meek Puccini roles as well. Listen to her as Mimi (this one moves me to tears) in La Boheme and we will finish this mini-concert with two gorgeous videos, "Un bel di, vedremo" with pictures of Japanese gardens and another one one with lyrics in beautiful calligraphy and a photo of a geisha.
    • Erna SPOORENBERG (11 April 1925- 18 Mar 2004) Dutch soprano born in Yogyakarta, Java which used to be a Dutch colony!!! Wow!! This is a great discovery for me! Let's start with a duet between Erna Spoorenberg and baryton Martin Camille Maurane from Pelléas et Mélisande, then we'll hear her sing a riveting Gloria in Excelsis from Haydn's Mass No. 12 Harmoniemesse and with tenor Alain Vanzo, four very melodious selections from Gounod's Roméo et Juliette: "De grâce, demeurez". "O Nuit Divine", "Va, je t'ai pardonné", and the Tomb Duet. We'll finish this page on soprano leggiero with a vivacious performance of Erna singing "Oh Mein Herr Marquis" as ADELE in Johann Strauss's "laughing song". I have posted the lyrics below so you can sing along!

    Mein Herr Marquis
    from Johann Strauss, Die Fledermaus

    Mein Herr Marquis, ein Mann wie Sie
    Sollt’ besser das verstehn,
    Darum rate ich, ja genauer sich
    Die Leute anzusehen!
    Die Hand ist doch wohl gar zo fein, hahaha
    Dies Füsschen so zierlich und klein, hahaha
    Die Sprache, die ich führe
    Die Taille, die Tournüre,
    Dergleichen finden Sie
    Bei einer Zofe nie!
    Gestehn müssen Sie fürwahr,
    Sehr komisch dieser Irrtum war!
    Ja, sehr komisch, hahaha,
    Ist die Sache, hahaha.
    Drum verzeihn Sie, hahaha,
    Wenn ich lache, hahaha!
    Ja, sehr komisch, hahaha
    Ist die Sache, hahaha!

    Sehr komisch, Herr Marquis, sind Sie!

    Mit dem Profil im griech’schen Stil
    Beschenkte mich Natur:
    Wenn nicht dies Gesicht schon genügend spricht,
    So sehn Sie die Figur!
    Schaun durch die Lorgnette Sie dann, ah,
    Sich diese Toilette nur an, ah
    Mir scheint wohl, die Liebe
    Macht Ihre Augen trübe,
    Der schönen Zofe Bild
    Hat ganz Ihr Herz erfüllt!
    Nun sehen Sie sie überall,
    Sehr komisch ist fürwahr der Fall!
    Ja, sehr komisch, hahaha
    Ist die Sache, hahaha
    Drum verzeihn Sie, hahaha,
    Wenn ich lache, hahaha!
    Ja, sehr komisch, hahaha,
    Ist die Sache, hahaha etc.

    (English Translation)

    My dear marquis, a man like you

    Should better understand that,
    Therefore, I advise you to look more
    Closely at people!
    This hand is surely far too fine, hahaha
    This foot so dainty and small, hahaha.
    The manner of speaking which I have,
    My waist, my bustle,
    These would never be found
    On a lady’s maid!
    You really must admit,
    This mistake was very comical!
    Yes, very comical, hahaha,
    Is this matter, hahaha.
    So pardon me, hahaha,
    If I laugh, ha ha ha!
    Yes, very comical, hahaha,
    Is this matter, hahaha!

    You are very comical, Marquis!

    With this profile in Grecian style
    Being a gift of nature;
    If this face doesn’t say enough,

    Just look at my figure!

    Just look through your lorgnette, ah
    At this outfit, ah
    It seems to me that love
    Has clouded your eyes,
    The image of your chambermaid
    Has quite filled your heart!
    Now you see her everywhere,
    This is truly a very comic situation!
    Yes very comical, hahaha
    Is this matter, ha ha ha ,
    So pardon me , ha ha ha,
    If I laugh, ha ha ha!
    Yes very comical, ha ha ha,
    Is this matter, ha ha ha , etc.

      ///O///BACK///O///DIVA INDEX///O///NEXT///O///

    1 comment:

    1. k. battle is more of a soubrette than a leggiero... these categories are subjective. but battles voice does not have the warmth timbre above an High C that Laura claycomb has... SHE I would consider a true leggiero... she has warmth of tone throughout her voice. Battle loses it as when she sang anything over an High C--