soprano

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soprano

[Ital.,=above], female voice of highest pitch. The three basic types of solo soprano are coloratura, lyric, and dramatic. The coloratura has a great range and impressive vocal agility; the lyric soprano has a light, pretty voice; and the dramatic soprano has a sustained power suitable for operatic roles. The voices of boys who have not reached puberty are generally in the soprano range and replace women's voices in some church choirs. In the castratocastrato
[Ital.,=castrated], a male singer with an artificially created soprano or alto voice, the result of castration in boyhood. The combination of the larynx of a youth and the chest and lungs of a man produced a powerful voice of great range and unique sound.
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 of the 18th cent. the quality of a boy's voice combined with the lung power of a man made for vocal powers of great brilliance (see eunucheunuch
[Gr.,=keeper of the couch], castrated human male, particularly a chamberlain of a harem in Asia. The custom of employing eunuchs as servants in wealthy or royal households is very ancient; it reached its epitome at the court of Constantinople under the Byzantine emperors,
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). The highest-pitched member of various families of instruments is termed soprano, e.g., soprano saxophone.

Soprano

 

(1) The highest singing voice. The range is from middle C to C two octaves above middle C, although some voices may have a higher compass ranging to D through F. A well-developed head register is a necessary quality for a soprano. Sopranos are usually women or children. In a chorus, the treble voices of boys sound especially pleasing. In the 16th through the 18th century, singing by castrati was quite common.

Three primary classifications of women sopranos exist: dramatic, lyric, and coloratura. There are also lyric-dramatic and lyric-coloratura sopranos. The dramatic soprano is distinguished by powerful sound over the entire range and a strong low register. The lyric soprano has a softness of timbre, flexibility, and great expressiveness in sustained melodies. The coloratura soprano is distinguished by agility in the execution of ornamentation and passage-work, transparency of timbre, and lightness and freedom of tone in the high register.

(2) The highest vocal category in a chorus.

(3) The high-register variants of some musical instruments.

soprano

1. the highest adult female voice, having a range approximately from middle C to the A a thirteenth above it
2. the voice of a young boy before puberty
3. a singer with such a voice
4. the highest part of a piece of harmony
5. 
a. the highest or second highest instrument in a family of instruments
b. (as modifier): a soprano saxophone
References in periodicals archive ?
Recorded in 1969, when the great Australian dramatic coloratura soprano was only 43, this set captures Sutherland in her absolute prime.
The ease of her sustained, clarion, arcing high notes, the sumptuous depth of her middle register, the woody, fruity, seductive quality of her low tones, the cascade of her fioratura--this was clearly a dramatic coloratura soprano in the making.