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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
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a female voice intermediate in range between soprano and contralto. The high, lyric mezzo-soprano is similar to the soprano, and the low mezzo-soprano approximates the contralto.
Characteristic of the mezzo-soprano are a full sound in the middle register and a low chest register. Its compass extends from A, B-flat to a”, b-flat”. Opera parts written for mezzo-soprano include Marfa in Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina, Liubasha in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tsar’s Bride, and Carmen in the opera of the same name by Bizet. Among the most outstanding Russian and Soviet mezzo-sopranos are A. P. Krutikova, M. A. Slavina, N. A. Obukhova, and S. P. Preobrazhenskaia. In choirs the mezzo-sopranos sing the first alto part.