Home > Blog > Lyric Coloratura Soprano: Voice Type Characteristics (2/25)

Lyric Coloratura Soprano: Voice Type Characteristics (2/25)

This post on the Lyric Coloratura Soprano is part of a series of 26 posts on the German Fach System of voice categorization. To follow the series, sign up for my free monthly newsletter, or subscribe through RSS.

A lyric coloratura soprano is foremost a coloratura soprano which means that her range extends to the sixth octave where here voice resonates bright and clear. Another representative characteristic is her flexibility and agility singing cadenzas and rapid successions of notes with ease.

Lyric Coloratura Soprano: Natalie Dessay as Olympia in Les contes d'Hoffmann
Natalie Dessay as Olympia in Les contes d’Hoffmann

A lyric coloratura should be able to sing anywhere between a C4 to an F6, and some times even higher than that. It is very common to see singers of this Fach improvise intricate cadenzas to demonstrate their skill and natural talent.

A lyric coloratura is casted in roles of young and fragile heroines and is, thus, required to be slim and capable to portray such sweetness and freshness. Just like a soubrette, she needs to have developed acting skills and lots of energy, as her characters usually set up the action for the rest of the opera.

Some times, young soubrettes who have the necessary agility and range are casted in coloratura roles. When this happens the soubrette is called a Lyrischer Koloratursoubrette, i.e. a lyric coloratura soubrette. On the other hand, if a lyric coloratura’s timber is warm, rather than metallic, she might be referred to as a soprano leggero.

Due to their extensive use of the head resonance, coloraturas tend to be slightly off key from time to time, though this doesn’t generally subtract from their performances as their vocal acrobatics tend to steal the show.

There are many known lyric coloratura sopranos, but I think that Natalie Dessay is the paragon of this voice type. Here’s a clip of hers singing in the most uncomfortable positions and jumping up and down on a couch, and still being amazing.

Examples of Lyric Coloratura Arias

Aria Character Opera Composer
Les Oiseaux Dans La Charmille Olympia Les Contes D’hoffmann Jacques Offenbach
Chacun Le Sait Marie La Fille Du Regiment Gaetano Donizetti
Ah! Ou Va La Jeune Indoue Lakmé Lakmé Leo Delibes
Care Compagne… Come Per Me Sereno Amina La Sonnambula Vincenzo Bellini
Ah! Non Credea… Ah! Non Giunge Amina La Sonnambula Vincenzo Bellini
Je Suis Titania Philine Mignon Ambroise Thomas

Lyric Coloratura Roles

Character Opera Composer
Tytania A Midsummer Night’s Dream Benjamin Britten
Agrippina Agrippina George Frideric Handel
Alcina Alcina George Frideric Handel
Alzira Alzira Giuseppe Verdi
Zerbinetta Ariadne auf Naxos Richard Strauss
Dalinda Ariodante George Frideric Handel
Silvia Ascanio in Alba Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Venus Ascanio in Alba Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Cunegonde Candide Leonard Bernstein
Madame Silberklang Der Schauspieldirektor Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Rosalinda Die Fledermaus Johann Strauss
Marguerite Faust Charles-François Gounod
Sesto Giulio Cesare George Frideric Handel
Mathilde Guillaume Tell Gioacchino Rossini
Ophélie Hamlet Ambroise Thomas
Giulietta I Capuleti ed i Montecchi Vincenzo Bellini
Elvira Walton I Puritani Vincenzo Bellini
Ilia Idomeneo Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Elisa Il Rè Pastore Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Tamyris Il Rè Pastore Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
La Constanza Il Sogno di Scipione (The Dream of Scipione) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
La Fortuna Il Sogno di Scipione (The Dream of Scipione) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Soloist Il Sogno di Scipione (The Dream of Scipione) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Elvira L’Italiana in Algeri Gioacchino Rossini
Marie La Fille du Régiment Gaetano Donizetti
Lisa La Sonnambula Vincenzo Bellini
Amina La Sonnambula Vincenzo Bellini
Lakmé Lakmé Leo Delibes
The Queen of Chemakha Le Coq d’Or (Zolotoy Pyetushok) Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov
The Nightingale Le Rossignol (Solovey) Igor Stravinsky
Olympia Les Contes d’Hoffmann Jacques Offenbach
Léïla Les Pêcheurs de Perles Georges Bizet
Celia Lucio Silla Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Philine Mignon Ambroise Thomas
Aspasia Mitridate, Rè di Ponto Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Ismene Mitridate, Rè di Ponto Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Adalgisa Norma Vincenzo Bellini
Dorinda Orlando George Frideric Handel
Angelica Orlando George Frideric Handel
Gilda Rigoletto Giuseppe Verdi
Almirena Rinaldo George Frideric Handel
Juliet Roméo et Juliette Charles-François Gounod
Amenaide Tancredi Gioacchino Rossini
Elizabeth Doe (Baby Doe) The Ballad of Baby Doe Douglas Moore
Oscar Un Ballo in Maschera Giuseppe Verdi


  1. My vocal range is D3-E7 im soprano but i don’t know my soprano type. My voice is little bit light and powerfull in high notes but in the middle ones is dark and powerfull. What is my soprano type?

    • Hi there Mary Lou,

      I can’t be certain without hearing you sing, but from your range and type (light) you should be a coloratura. Coloraturas tend to have a hard time with their middle range and this is why they usually sound dark in that area.

      As far as what type of coloratura, if it’s easier for you to hold long high powerful notes than sing lots of short quick notes, then you’re most probably a dramatic coloratura. If, on the other hand, you have an easier time singing cadenzas and lots of short quick notes, then you’re most probably a lyric coloratura. Your age maters, too, though. Younger women are very rarely dramatic coloraturas.

      This is my best guess! I hope this helps! You might wish to look at the two posts about the dramatic and lyric coloratura and compare your voice to the videos.

      • A dramatic coloratura is characterized by thick vocal chords capable of producing a dark and large sound, but with the coloratura flexibility capable of performing runs and cadences with great ability. If you don’t t have the flexibility of a coloratura voice and you have a dramatic sound then you are not a dramatic coloratura. The dramatic coloratura has an extraordinary range, most of the great bel canto sopranos (and the roles written for them) were Sfogatos which is essentially the type of soprano Callas was talking about when she coined the term dramatic coloratura. The Sfogatos are arguably not different from Mozart’s dramatischer Koloratursopran, the Constaze’s and Queen’s of the opera world, just a few generations after. That dark thick power, the flexibility and an enormous range (mine is A2 to A6 although I can hit a C7 but why bother). The point being, a lack of flexibility DOES NOT indicate a dramatic coloratura.

    • Hi mary lou, if you really are soprano, you cannot have the D3, you means probably D4 .
      A high soprano can be coloratura or not, a low soprano can be coloratura or not .
      Coloratura doesn t mean high but agil .

  2. Alcina is a lyric soprano, Sesto from G. Cesare is a lyric mezzo and Mathilde is also a lyric soprano.

  3. I just started singing and my range is C3-B6. What would I be? Also, what is falsetto and how do I use it? Also, I am a girl and my speaking voice slightly deepened, but my singing voice got higher (from an E6 to a B6). Is this normal? Please respond!! Thanks for answering my questions.

  4. Hello, I am a soprano with a singing range of G3-C6. I tried to follow your guides, but I must admit, I was slightly confused. If it matters, I am a 13-year-old girl. I don’t know if you follow musicals, or if you’re just into the opera stuff (which I will admit I know nothing about, besides Pavarotti), but you might know these songs that I’ve sung with my Jr. Thespians group. “My Strongest Suit” from Aida, it was too low for me, “Unworthy of Your Love” from Assassins, in which, I struggled on the harmony at first, but I actually ended up getting Superior at the state competition, “Edgar Allen Poe” from Snoopy! the Musical, I was Peppermint Patty by the way, “All for the Best” from Godspell, I just sang Judas an octave higher, and “Six Months Out of Every Year” from Damn Yankees, which was easy, if not a tad low. Based on this, what do you think my subtype would be?

    • Hi Zola,

      Thank you for taking the time to share your story with me. Though I write mostly about classical singing, I have to admit that I’m a very big fan of musical theater as well.

      Judging from your current range, you are a soprano. At least for now. Your voice will continue changing for at least 3-4 years more. You might be a soprano now, but once your voice settles you might figure out that you’re a mezzo-soprano or even an alto. This is the case with all women and the reason why classical training doesn’t start until a singer is 16.

      For the time being try not to push yourself. When singing in choir, if there’s a part of the melody that you can’t reach or it’s too strenuous, then just don’t sing it. When singing musical pieces solo, choose songs that you can sing easily and effortlessly. Keep in mind that most songs in the musical theater have been written for young adult singers.

      Since more than 60% of women are in fact mezzo-sopranos, most musical songs cater to them. Being a coloratura, I also find most musical songs too low for me, just like you. It might help to look for songs by characters who are around your age like Annie and the girls from the Sound of Music.

      Take care,

  5. Hi My name is Michael. My range is from B flate in bass to an F naturel in coloratura sopran. I was told I am countertenor is that true

  6. Hi! I know you cannot give me a definitive answer without hearing me sing, but I am having the hardest time trying to type my voice. I am 23 years old, I took lessons briefly when I was 19 and my teacher then classified me as a lyric soprano with the potential to be a coloratura. I’ve been getting back into classical singing, and the more I learn about voice types, the more I think she may be mistaken, but I just don’t know. My current untrained full range is a2-d6 e6 on a good day, and I am most comfortable singing in between C5 and C6. I am also most comfortable with rapidly moving music rather than legato sustained notes, although I can hold notes for a long time. I feel as though my range goes awful low for a soprano, and without the F6 and given that above a C6 is quite difficult for me to hit I definitely wouldn’t be considered a coloratura soprano. Do you have any insights? I am not currently taking lessons, but would like to sometime in the near future.

  7. Hi, my name is Grace.
    I am currently eighteen years old, and I’ve been taking lessons for two years. I am a light lyric soprano, with potential to be a lyric coloratura (I think) and my vocal range extends from G3-F#6. However my vocal teacher has still not let me perform any song beyond a Bb5, even though she is aware that I can sing much higher. She still thinks that I’m not ready for a C6. I realize that anything beyond a C6 would be crazy right now with my level of experience, but I would like to be able to perform a sond with a C6 before I turn twenty.

    • Hi Grace,

      I understand your eagerness to sing all these high notes, anyhow they are the ones that have that wow factor and showcase your voice.

      Your teacher is right, though, not allowing you to sing above a C6 yet. You might be able to reach these notes, but if you’re not ready, meaning that you still don’t know the technique to tackle these notes, you might truly hurt your voice.

      It’s something that I have seen very often. Young coloraturas being encouraged and pressed by their teachers to sing high too soon, and eventually falling out of the scene really fast.

      Your teacher seems to know what she’s doing. I’d stick with her.
      I hope this helps!

  8. Hi! I know you can’t be really sure without hearing me, but I’m a 15 year old girl who is a definite soprano, but I’m not really sure as to which one. I can sing the Jewel Song from Faust, and Juliet’s Waltz from Romeo et Juliette with ease, as well as Du gai Soleil from Werther. I can also sing Les Oiseaux Dans La Charmille (Doll Song) and Je Suis Titania very well, but with a little less accuracy, but Lakme’s Bell song is hard! I think my range is like a G 3 to an E6, more or less. I’m just really curious, (most of the arias I sing are coloratura) as to what my voice type is! Opera is so much fun, and I really do love it…your input is very much appreciated!! Thank you!

    • Hi Sofia,

      You have mentioned a couple of my favorite arie in there and yes the Bell Song is quite hard because you not only need to be able to sing the high notes of the bells, but you need to be able to support the opening recitativo as well.

      The arie you mentioned are, indeed, in the coloratura category, so if you can sing them even not very accurately, you can pretty much assume that you’re a coloratura.

      Having said that and taking in consideration that you’re interested in classical singing, I would strongly urge you to find a vocal coach. These pieces maybe be fun to sing, but doing so at this age and without proper technique can really affect your voice.

      I know that you want to sing and impress everyone with your voice, but trust me, if you push it too hard too soon, you might not get to enjoy it for very long. Again, talk to your parents or your music teacher and try to find a voice coach. Not only she/he will help you become better, but it will, also, look great on college applications.

      I hope this helps!

  9. I’m not very sure what type of Soprano I am and I’m 12. But, I am the highest voice as a person in my whole high-school(I’m also the lowest girl). My voice is still maturing, but I think it’s ok. I can sing really high and it feels light and really easy. When I sing really low it’s Rich and still really easy. My choir teacher says I should keep at it, I’m already able to get a scholarship for it. But, since I can sing really high and really low, she can’t tell where she should put me. I can sing up to the highest key on the piano. And Almost to the lowest key. I get confused myself on what I am. Hope this helps! 😀

  10. Hi, I am 35 years old and my experience is that, I am very often taken to be an alto, because my speaking range is about D2-F2, I can sing very low notes and bottom of my voice has dark color. I also thought I was an alto until a phoniatrican, who saw my vocal cords, told me my voice is very high and it has coloratura ability. When I checked this with a singing teacher, I appeared to be a… coloratura soprano, but with unbalanced registers and register break between C#5 and F#5 (which I earlier considered to be the top of my range). After a year of taking lessons, it is much better and I can go up to C7 so far. But some people (even those with musical education) consider me to be an alto because I can sing very low notes. Now I know not only the range decides about the voice type. Also the part of a voice which is the strongest. My voice is stronger in high notes than in low ones (so definitely this is a soprano, not an alto).

  11. Hello i am keith and im 21 years old and i am a baritone but i dont know what type of baritone i am i have like a tenor like quality in my lower register and i have 4 octaves with a whistle register and i a lyric or dramatic baritone .

    • Depends on your vocal weight. If you have intense power when belting high notes then your most likely a dramatic…

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  12. Excuse me, what is it about “oubrette, i.e. a lyric coloratura soubrette. On the other hand, if a lyric coloratura’s timber is warm, rather than metallic, she might be referred to as a soprano leggero.”? I Mean, what’s a metallic nd warm sound to be understood by?

    To be honest I don’t really get what a lyric coloratura is. Here in my country I’ve been told to be coloratura and to be leggero for different teachers, hence for me, are… The same. That’s why I don’t understand this about their timber.. Could you please provide with an example of each?

  13. Hi Olga – fascinating blog!

    I have a question: Does the whistle register tend to shrink early? I am a baritone, but in my late teens through mid twenties, I could access a whistle register up to about G above soprano high C (and sometimes though C above and beyond, though the sound here was tiny). Then I started taking singing lessons focusing on falsetto, and now, in my 30’s, I can rarely access that register except by “zipping up” and sucking in air. I kinda miss being able to hit those birdlike high notes.

  14. Please. can someone give me some advice?

    I sing since when I was 15, now, given my age, after more than 13 years training, and after studying with many different (but highly experienced) musical directors, singers and voice coaches, still they have the most varied (conflicting) opinions about my voice!!! :'(

    I feel most comfortable in the middle range (C to F-G) but I can reach Ebem low (below middle C) and the high E bem up below high C (younger I could reach F of Queen of the night).

    Now, I must admit that even though I have high notes, the higher tessitura is very uncomfortable for me and i can reach the acuti while singing agility fast, but cannot keep them for long.

    My colour is dark and very warm (i can only manage to go up by making it clearer, like a female version of falsetto but still NOT falsetto obviously).

    I can keep VERY long phrases (breath control) in my middle range.

    I Always seem to choose (almost coincidentally) mezzo arias (BUT only those of mozart strangely).

    Some think I am a mezzo (although not one to sing Azucena), Others lirico-leggero soprano, Others full lyrical soprano (and they claim i have lots of voice that needs to be drawn out).

    How is it possible that so many experienced people have so many doubt about my voice??!!!

    • Hi!
      I am also 15 right now, and let me say with almost 199% confidence, your voice is still growing and devoloping which makes it hard to pinpoint exactly what voice type you are, or are going to be. Don’t worry about the labels on voice types, just sing whatever feels good in your voice because at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.

      Hope that helps! (:

  15. I have a question about the importance of body types in the Fach system. I am a women in my mid twenties. Vocally, I am unquestionably a lyric coloratura soprano (range from F3 to F6, bright tone, flexible and agile, especially in the upper register, currently working on some of Ariel’s bits from Hoiby’s Tempest). However, physically, I am borderline overweight, very busty and hourglass shaped, and not even remotely fragile. So, my question is, how do we classify ourselves when our voice is one thing and our body is another?

  16. Hello! I’m turning 17 years old next month and I’m a soprano for sure but I’m not sure as to what kind. My range is from A3 (which I can hit 50% of the time – low notes are hard for me, don’t sound good and kind of painful) to F6 (which I can hit almost 70% of the time without any pain whatsoever, whenever I can’t hit it, I feel like it’s just because I don’t have enough air or I’m really tense). Any who, I know that is coloratura range but I’m not sure if I can do cadenzas. With musical theatre singing and pop singing I am very good at riffing and running but I don’t think to the extent that would be required of an opera singer. Also, my top note that I can hold out is C6, every note from D6-F6 is short and staccato which leads me to presume that I’m definitely not a dramatic – probably more of a “light” something or “light lyric” something. I know you can’t really tell completely because you haven’t heard my voice but just an estimation would be appreciated 🙂 I just got an Opera Voice teacher SO I’M VERY EXCITED! Haha, I love opera 🙂

  17. I just want to jump in, especially for all those young singers – coloratura’s do not JUST have to have high notes. In fact, a good low and medium/mix register will help your upper register dramatically. It is entirely possible for a coloratura to sing, comfortably, in the third, and even second octave. Yes, second octave. I am 35, and singing for decades. My range is a very comfortable G2- B6. In fact, I only picked up the top notes in my range when I started learning how to properly sing low. The coloratura is difficult for me below a Bb3, but I can sustain and project notes down to the G2. (e.g. I am not a mezzo-coloratura, the most beautiful female voice, imho).

    Don’t live in the sixth octave too much when you are young, though. Sing there only with tutelage of your voice teacher, so you do not learn unhealthy habits like raised larynx and closed space (something amateur singers will do because, yes, a smaller space may make it seem easier to sing higher, but in reality, you are doing long term damage). And, if you have whistle, be careful not to let that whistle overtake the top of your head voice. I made that mistake as a young singer, and struggled to sing in head voice above an E6 – I would often octave jump to E7 without intending to. Now, my whistle and head voice overlap, but I can preserve the tone of head voice much higher to a B6.

  18. Hi there,

    I am confused on my vocal range , the last time I visited a vocal coach I was 16. She said I was a c4 to e7 ( but I have trouble with finding middle range ) I can hit a low in background notes , but not in power low notes ) she told me I was a soprano , bit what type of soprano would I be considered? Nowi am 21 and I can surpass that e7 note. I do not strain going higher , but the problem is I don’t know how to apply those high notes in regular songs. Like a emotions sing by Arianna or etc . I can only hit those nots in opera type songs . I can sing songs like the phantom of the opera , or Chromaggia

  19. Hello. My lowest note is G3, my mixed is C#6, I can go up to a G6 with headvoice. And my whistle is Bb8. What am I exactly?

    • QueenOfSopranos

      it’s the quality not the quantity.

    • really? does a Bb8 whistle even exist?
      am not doubting your range but that’s to rare for someone to go down to 3rd octave and goes up to 8th octave

  20. Hi.i am 17 and so confused about my voice type my teachers say my voice is dark in the middle and its has resonance in head voice.am discouraged to sing above Ab5 because i tend to crack.i avoid joining choirs sometimes am off key.i love singing fast runs with ease.my range is F3-E6(in head voice) its so frustrating :’-(

  21. Hi, I would just like to ask a question. I’m already 15 years old with voice ranging up to B6 / C7. Is it possible as you grow old and mature your voice changes causing your range to decrease or increase? Would it affect your normal speaking tone and intonation?

  22. Victor Rodrigues

    Mariah, is she an coloratura soprano? She have a crazy ass agility being able to hit 8 notes in 1 second, doing super fast trills, runs and if you know all in your Mind and emotions, you know she travels effortlessly from the six to the seven octaves…
    Even nowadays she shows some serious coloratura skills but I don’t know if that’s necessary to label her an coloratura?

    • QueenOfSopranos

      Contemporary singers cannot be classified classicaly, because they sing differently than us. Mariah did show some amazing coloratura skills, but her head voice is pretty weak, and that is our forte. Although her passagios are exactly like coloraturas’, she has a high tessitura, but she needs to learn to connect her flageolet register, yes it is possible to connect it to the head voice. Peace…

  23. What would I be if I have a C2 to F5? I sing Soprano 1 all the time, but have been known to sing bass. Is there a specific catagory for me?

  24. What is contra baritone please?

  25. Hi! I can sing (at the VERY lowest) a F2(and that’s a stretch) and, at my highest, and E7. I am put into Soprano 1 in choir but I wanna sing low… 🙁 I don’t think I fit into any category because my range is so large. Is there a category that I fit in?