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[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.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(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.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


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
a. the highest or second highest instrument in a family of instruments
b. (as modifier): a soprano saxophone
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Nilsson s most famous role was that of Isolde in Richard Wagner s opera "Tristan und Isolde", with which she took La Scala by storm in 1956 and established her credentials as one of the 20th century s great Wagnerian sopranos.
Dame Anne, one of the world's foremost Wagnerian sopranos, said she had always dieted because it was important to look right in her operatic roles.
What's the difference between Wagnerian sopranos and the daintier breed?
Jane Eaglen is already established as one of the century's great Wagnerian sopranos. Still young, she has proven again and again that her effortless power and her velvety sheen right up to the high C's, combined with intelligent inflection, rocket her to the international summit of great Wagnerians.
Off the top of my head I can think, for example, of performers with Welsh National Opera, Opera North and Munich Opera (one of the world's most sought-after Wagnerian sopranos).
Ryan was well-matched by an excellent cast, with German-Austrian tenor Peter Bronder providing a Mime as pitiful yet vocally polished as one could hope.Terje Stensvold was a fatherly, rich-voiced Wanderer, while Irene Theorin reaffirmed her status as one of today's most seasoned Wagnerian sopranos as Brunhilde, despite some screeching high notes.The resonant bass of Mikhail Petrenko evoked the transformed dragon Fafner with insidious, offstage tones, and Anna Larsson's earthy mezzo made for an affecting Erda in her brief appearance.
Rarely has Cardiff enjoyed such a high-powered cultural weekend with the Kirov at Wales Millennium Centre and on Saturday night one of the world's truly great Wagnerian sopranos in concert at St David's Hall.
Her subtle use of language, unerring diction and uncommon musicianship make her one of the most accomplished Wagnerian sopranos of her generation.
"It will be fascinating to see how Ben Heppner will fare when partnered by Deborah Voigt, one of the world's most celebrated Wagnerian sopranos," says Crory.
Eddie has a nose for a comeback every bit as sharp of a few Wagnerian sopranos I can think of.
Unlike the solidly built Wagnerian sopranos of legend (a tradition maintained today more in North America than in Europe) Broderick is a pint-sized singer with a model's figure.
Noel Edmonds, sago, Anthea Turner, Welsh rugby players, Terry Wogan, dogs' mess, Jim Davidson, liver, Steve Wright, XR3is, Jimmy Hill, very fat Wagnerian sopranos, Dennis Norden, clipboards, Robert Robinson, Brylcreem etc.