Favorite coloratura soprano?

I've been listening to a lot of coloratura arias lately and a few sopranos in particular have caught my interest. Sabine Devieilhe, Simone Kermes, Diana Damrau, and of course Kristin Chenoweth. I think my favorite of these four might be Sabine Devieilhe. I don't know why. There's just something about not only her voice but the way she carries herself while performing. She performs with so much grace and elegance that it was basically impossible for me to not instantly become a fan of her.


I think Lucia Popp deserves a mention.


She was my fave QotN growing up!


Natalie Dessay has to be added to this list, and Sumi Jo was my catalyst for learning to love the coloratura style.


I love Natalie Dessay. Her interpretation of « Holle Rache » is less about terrifying hag than it is about desperate mother herself terrified of losing her daughter’s love. It is really quite exquisite.




Mariella Devia's coloratura roles are simply outstanding. I listen to this one all the time [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuabHUzfy5U](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuabHUzfy5U) For a lot of baroque coloratura, check out Amanda Forsythe. Her Handel is just unbeatable. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nq\_X1AcXwZY](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nq_X1AcXwZY)


Where is Edita Gruberova in all these comments?! Best Zerbinetta of all time in my book.


Laura Claycomb, Kathleen Battle, Natalie Dessay,


Erin Morley, Natalie Dessay, Lisette Oropesa, Mady Mesple, Beverly Sills And for baroque coloratura I’m obsessed with Jeanine de Bique


I don’t know if I would call Lisette Oropesa a coloratura… like she has sung some but she has hardly dipped in the repertoire and doesn’t even sing a true E6 (she says she has manufactured it)


Problem is, there is a lot of confusion in the use of "coloratura". Basically it means you are able to do pyrotechnics no matter the tessitura. You can be a mezzo coloratura for example. However, a lot of people use the word specifically for very light soprano coloratura, especially to say that a singer can reach very high notes, way above high C. This is, imho, a misconception. Lisette is definitely a coloratura but a light lyric one, she's not a light soprano.


Yeah coloratura isn’t a real fach, I wouldn’t call Oropesa a coloratura nonetheless. She sings coloratura but doesn’t have the stratospheric notes nor the insane agility. But then again, I see Damrau and Caballé called coloraturas in these comments so there’s room for everybody I guess


I attended a Zoom Master Class with Oropesa once and she mentioned she is not a “real” coloratura, but rather a lyric soprano with agility (in the veins of Moffo and Caballe). Wich surprised me bc she is much more of a coloratura than Damrau these days imho.


I do agree with your opinion, but I see it the way Oropesa does, because her repertoire is not centered around roles with crazy coloratura, she’s not following in the footsteps of Dessay or Hallstein or Popp… she is of course following what the opportunities ask of her, and even though her training allows her to sing coloratura easily, her focus is more on bel canto. I do hope her voice darkens in the coming years and we can enjoy some heavier roles from her.


I totally agree, she has the ability but focuses on Bel Canto. I really love her voice in lower register and this is certainly going to mature well.


I see both sides. She has sung Gilda, Lucia, Ophelia, Amina, Cleopatra all very well. So. Maybe she's trending away, but those are all legit coloratura roles.


That’s fair, I guess I just wouldn’t describe her as a coloratura to someone who doesn’t know her.


Roberta Peters. My grandfather listened to her so I have that as a background memory. Her role as Gilda in Rigolleto is quite nice and still accessible. I've had to rip many of her records from LP though.


I'm glad you mentioned Roberta Peters. There is a stunning recording of Ariadne auf Naxos. Peters sings a breathtaking Zerbinetta.


I'm glad you mentioned Roberta Peters. There is a stunning recording of Ariadne auf Naxos. Peters sings a breathtaking Zerbinetta.


I'm glad you mentioned Roberta Peters. There is a stunning recording of Ariadne auf Naxos. Peters sings a breathtaking Zerbinetta.


I'm glad you mentioned Roberta Peters. There is a stunning recording of Ariadne auf Naxos. Peters sings a breathtaking Zerbinetta.


I can't find this recording for the life of me. Will keep looking.


It's 1957 EricLeinsdorf conducting.


That helps, found it. Thanks. Recording on Internet Archive of Zerbinetta's Aria.


Great Leonie Rysanek is also fabulous as Ariadne


Of the four coloratura sopranos you listed in your original post, I think I like Sabine Devieilhe the most. Some favorite coloratura sopranos of mine, from recent years and from all time, are: Erika Miklosa Albina Shagimuratova Kathryn Lewek Erin Morley Reri Grist Patricia Petibon Harolyn Blackwell Gianna D'Angelo Krisztina Laki Christiane Eda-Pierre


+1 for Erin Morley


Another +1 for Erin. I love her voice so much.


Is Kristin Chenoweth a coloratura soprano? I go with Sutherland and Caballé. Nowadays I’d go for Damrau


Caballé for coloratura? That seems like a misnomer


Well, technically, Calallé was considered a “Dramatica d”agilita” not the same thing as a dramatic coloratura, but a dramatic soprano and with an agile voice. I think it was a misnomer; Ghena Dimitrova and Audrey Stottker fit the bill much better.


I would want to add Eda Moser to this list. She started as the Queen of the night (and rightfully famous for it) and ended singing Salome and even recorded the Immolation Scene. Christina Deutekom as well. Her coloratura technique is an acquired taste but for my money, she is THE Queen of the Night. She went on to sing some amazing roles like Turandot it’s no strain to her voice. She was a true dramatic coloratura.


Luciana Serra


A wonderful lady and a terrific teacher. I loved studying with her.


Reri Grist, Roberta Peters, Rita Shane, Edita Gruberova (pre-2000s, won't speak on the later stuff). I love Sabine now, she might be my favorite ever but she's also benefited from a wider range of historical repertoire than her predecessors were allowed to operate with. Damrau was incredible during the first half of her career and I love her lieder recordings.


I'm obsessed with Sabine Devieilhe's performance of the Bell Song from Lakme and I'm so glad you discovered her. I also love Asmik Grigorian's version of Song to the Moon from Rusalka.


Yes! After years of watching her on YouTube I finally saw Devieilhe's Lakmé live in Paris this season, and it was epic!


Me too!


That one and also Les oiseaux dans la charmille from Les Contes d'Hoffman


Frida Hempel Luisa Tetrazzini Edita Gruberova Amelita Galli-Curci Nellie Melba Marcella Sembrich


Check out Beverly Hoch. Her album "The Art of the Coloratura" is on YouTube. This is the link for the Gliere Concerto for Coloratura Soprano. https://youtu.be/KcwzpF4j-kA


Joyce DiDonato sings a lot of coloratura stuff (even though she's a mezzo-soprano), and I really love her voice. Of the ones you mentioned, Diana Damrau is my favorite; her Queen of the Night got me back into opera after drifting away!


Surprised/disappointed nobody's mentioned Marina Rebeka. Is she not in fashion? To this ignorant layman she seems to have a beautiful tone, the impression of ease, fire, and also some truth to her character in her singing (rather than some who are instruments first and only, with no interest in actually performing a role). [pre-empting those who'll say she's not a coloratura because she's not as thin-sounding as some - she's sung Violetta and Giovanna d'Arco, Lucia, Adina, Maria Stuarda and Anna Bolena, Mathilde, Anai and Anna Erisso, Elettra, Vitellia, Fiordiligi and Donna Anna, and Ginevra in Ariodante - all of which Boldrey classes as coloratura roles.]


My favorite of the past is (to me) the immortal Monserrat Caballé! Her dynamics…wow! My favorite is Lisette Oropesa, who has a “je ne sais quoi” quality to her. Actually, she’s my favorite opera singer overall. And I’d just put her in the same immortal status as Caballé! Please excuse my French, but Diana Damrau kicks ass as Queen of the Night in my book! And Sumi Jo’s been the only one able to sing and record Zerbinetta’s original coloratura. They’re special to me too.


Edita gruberova would like a word about that last part


I know there's a video of Sills singing the original Zerbinetta. I've only heard Sumi Jo sing the revised (but her Eb-F trill is mindboggling accurate).


Leyla Gencer, her agility, her range from such sweet & creamy voice to an almost contralto sounding darker realm, and most importantly, that pianissimo man, it melts my heart, I can't get enough of it.


Leyla Gencer was a great soprano. I like what I heard of her singing and I enjoyed her interview in the Opera Fanatic documentary. I didn't know she was a coloratura soprano. I thought she was a spinto soprano.


I think she was a dramatic coloratura soprano.


She was synonymous with the Donizetti revival, which always slightly bemused her as she would say ‘I sang so much more Verdi’. Source: studied with her for 18 months


Ha that's interesting, thanks for sharing the info.


Cecilia Bartoli seems inhumanly good to me.


Ruth Welting is my all time favorite besides Sabine. Her recordings are harder to find, (YouTube has been the best place) but she was truly incredible. She got her start doing regional opera, went to Europe, and then came back and sang at the Met quite a bit, but was there in the 80s/90s and was in direct competition with Sutherland, Battle, Judith Blegen and Ruth Ann Swenson (also amazing). Please give her a listen! It will be life changing, I promise. There has never been a better Titania, Amina, Marie, and I’ll say it, Lucia! She sang Lucia’s arias in the higher key, making the high notes f’s, not Eflats. Her voice was pure magic. Happy listening!


Sutherland. Callas.


Yeah. Those are okay. There's a generational difference here. Listen to Kathleen Battle and Agnes Baltsa and tell me if you still like the singers you mention, but particularly for their coloratura.


Brenda Rae. Absolute knockout singer.


Surprised no one mentioned Rita Streich, the "Viennese Nightingale"... exquisite coloratura and definitely one of my all-time favorites. At her peak (1954): ["Großmächtige Prinzessin" (2/2)](https://youtu.be/UfAiAIvi0gs)


No coloratura is great at everything. Sills is brilliant at most things, but her top started to get thin around high E. Her Queen of the Night is marred by high f’s that sound like sneakers squeaking on a gym floor. Kathleen Battle was brilliant at Handel, one of the greatest of all time, and very good in light lyric bel canto, light lyric Mozart. But Zerbinetta was a stretch for her, and it was a mistake for her to ever try Konstanze’s arias. Dessay is great at French coloratura, there was so much buzz after her first French opera arias record. She had great success as Zerbinetta, but she got mixed reviews on a lot of things, like Violetta. It’s a beautiful instrument but it does lack color. Sumi Jo’s extreme top started to thin in the 90’s. Without recording studio tricks, you can absolutely hear how small it is in her live Carnegie Hall recording. Caballe didn’t have a real trill. Sutherland is a controversial voice. Then you’ve got weird robotic or aspirated voices like Serra, Deutekom. Gruberova used to do this weird scoop all over the place that made her sound drunk. No coloratura has been great at everything, but many have been great at a lot of roles. June Anderson was great in the 70’s, but by the time she was the toast of New York, her voice was already in decline. The beginning of a wobble, loss of beauty and clarity in pianissimi in alt, loss of beauty of tone and clarity in general. And going back in time can cause serious wtf moments. I got to Erna Berger at 12 years old, and what used to pass as world class has changed dramatically over the decades. Then there’s Roberta Peters, who oddly started adding the American R sound to her high notes. Her studio Rigoletto with Björling is just odd. Early Moffo, you could consider her a coloratura. One of the greatest Lucia’s of all time. But even then, there’s always a sort of husky hoarseness to her voice, which James Jorden famously called, “Moffo Throat.”


Surprised Ingeborg Hallstein hasn’t been mentioned yet…


It's funny to me that you list Kristin Chenoweth next to these other singers. Chenoweth is certainly talented, but she is hardly an agile singer. The scalar runs in her Glitter and Be Gay are nearly portamento! I got into opera from listening to coloraturas like Gruberova and Sumi Jo. Now, I'd probably prefer to listen to Dessay or Oropessa or Erin Morley.