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Spinto Soprano: Voice Type Characteristics (4/25)

This post on the Spinto 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 young dramatic soprano is widely known as a spinto. She is a youthful soprano whose voice hasn’t matured yet but is still very powerful and has great volume. Despite her young age, a spinto is capable of long lyric phrases and can be heard easily over a full orchestra.

Her vocal range extends from a C4 to a C6 and her difference with the other sopranos is that she has to sustain long and intense notes both in her middle and upper register.

Although the word spinto means “pushed” in Italian, it doesn’t describe the vocal challenges that a soprano spinto will have to overcome. The only pushing that she will have to endure is the pushing around of her heroines by villains and lovers alike. As a consequence of the hardships they have to go through, the heroines she embodies usually commit suicide at the end of the opera.

Spinto Soprano: Leontyne Price

Spinto Soprano Leontyne Price

Since she’s on her way to becoming a full dramatic soprano or a Wagnerian, a spinto soprano has to master long dialogues and recitative. Often she is trained in good diction in German and Italian and mastering the former can play a major role in her career.

The spinto or young dramatic soprano is one of the most interesting categories to belong to because of the breadth of roles you can be casted into. Having said that, it’s, also, among the most physically, vocally, and emotionally demanding and tiresome fachs.

One of the most celebrated spintos of all times is the magnificent Leontyne Price, one of the first African American opera singers to become a leading lady at the Metropolitan Opera. Price, who was known for her seductive power, debuted at the Met on January 27th, 1961. She made such an impression that by March of the same year, she was featured on the cover of TIME Magazine.

Here’s Leontyne Price as Adriana Lecouvreur singing “Io Son l’Umile Ancella,” the aria that captures the essence of all opera singers.

Examples of Spinto Soprano Arias

Aria Character Opera Composer
Io Son l’Umile Ancella Adriana Lecouvreur Adriana Lecouvreur Francesco Cilèa
Un Bel Dì Vedremo, Cio-Cio San Madama Butterfly Giacomo Puccini
Voi Lo Sapete Santuzza Cavalleria Rusticana Pietro Mascagni
Einsam In Trüben Tagen Elsa of Brabant Lohengrin Wilhelm Richard Wagner
Pisen Rusalky O Mesiku Rusalka Rusalka Antonín Dvořák

Spinto Soprano Roles

Character Opera Composer
Vanessa Vanessa Samuel Barber
Margherita Mefistofele Arrigo Boito
Princess Yaroslavna Prince Igor Alexander Borodin
Lady Billows Albert Herring Benjamin Britten
La Wally La Wally Alfredo Catalani
Adriana Lecouvreur Adriana Lecouvreur Francesco Cilèa
Bess Porgy and Bess George Gershwin
Serena Porgy and Bess George Gershwin
Princess Fedora Romanov Fedora Umberto Giordano
Marietta Die Tote Stadt Erich Korngold
Santuzza Cavalleria Rusticana Pietro Mascagni
Salomé Hérodiade Jules Massenet
Magda Sorel The Consul Gian-Carlo Menotti
Minnie La Fanciulla del West Giacomo Puccini
Madame Butterfly Madama Butterfly Giacomo Puccini
Manon Lescaut Manon Lescaut Giacomo Puccini
Giorgetta Il Tabarro Giacomo Puccini
Floria Tosca Tosca Giacomo Puccini
The Marschallin Der Rosenkavalier Richard Strauss
Elisabeth of Valois Don Carlos Giuseppe Verdi
Alice Ford Falstaff Giuseppe Verdi
Leonora La Forza del Destino Giuseppe Verdi
Lucrezia Contarini I Due Foscari Giuseppe Verdi
Giselda I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata Giuseppe Verdi
Viclinda I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata Giuseppe Verdi
Maria Boccanegra (Amelia) Simon Boccanegra Giuseppe Verdi
Freia Das Rheingold Richard Wagner
Wellgunde Das Rheingold Richard Wagner
Woglinde Das Rheingold Richard Wagner
Ortlinde Die Walküre Richard Wagner

One comment

  1. Amei seu site. De certa forma tem me ajudado em muito com as minhas pesquisas. Continue assim. Seu conteúdo é enriquecedor! Obrigado.

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