A bass-baritone is a high-lying bass or low-lying "classical" baritone voice type which shares certain qualities with the true baritone voice. The term arose in the late 19th century to describe the particular type of voice required to sing three Wagnerian roles: the title role in Der fliegende Holländer , Wotan/Der Wanderer in the Ring Cycle and Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg . Wagner labelled these roles as Hoher Bass ("high bass")—see fach for more details.
The bass-baritone voice is distinguished by two attributes. First, it must be capable of singing comfortably in a baritonal tessitura. Secondly, however, it needs to have the ripely resonant lower range typically associated with the bass voice. For example, the role of Wotan in Die Walküre covers the range from F2 (the F at the bottom of the bass clef) to F♯4 (the F♯ above middle C), but only infrequently descends beyond C3 (the C below middle C). Bass-baritones are typically divided into two separate categories: lyric bass-baritone and dramatic bass-baritone.
Bass-baritones should not be confused with their vocal cousin—the so-called Verdi baritone. This type of Italianate baritone voice has a brighter tone colour and sings at a slightly higher tessitura than that possessed by the bass-baritone. In addition to the operas of Giuseppe Verdi, its natural home is to be found in operatic music composed after about 1830 by the likes of Donizetti, Ponchielli, Massenet, Puccini and the verismo composers.
The term bass-baritone is roughly synonymous with the Italian vocal classification basso cantante; for example, in the Verdian repertoire, Philip II in Don Carlos is often taken by a bass-baritone, while Ferrando in Il trovatore is sung by a true bass—though the two roles' ranges are very similar. In Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande the lower baritone role of Golaud is a bass-baritone, sitting between Pelleas (high baritone) and Arkel (bass).[ citation needed ] (See under fach for more information.) Some of the classical Mozart baritone roles such as Don Giovanni, Figaro and Gugliemo—composed before the term "baritone" gained currency—are occasionally played by a bass-baritone.
Gilbert and Sullivan's Savoy operas usually featured a comic bass-baritone character, created to make use of D'Oyly Carte company member Richard Temple.
In short: the bass-baritone is a voice that has the resonant low notes of the typical bass allied with the ability to sing in a baritonal tessitura. Colloquially, it refers to a voice with a range and tone somewhere between a bass and a baritone.
The bass-baritone's required range can vary tremendously based on the role, with some less demanding than others. Many bass-baritones have ventured into the baritone repertoire, including (among others) Leopold Demuth, Georges Baklanoff, Rudolf Bockelmann, George London, Thomas Stewart, James Morris, and Bryn Terfel.
The following operatic parts are performed by bass-baritones but sometimes by high basses:
Core bass-baritone operatic parts:
Bass-baritone parts in Gilbert and Sullivan works:
Other bass-baritone parts:
A tenor is a type of classical male singing voice whose vocal range lies between the countertenor and baritone voice types. It is one of the highest of the male voice types. The tenor's vocal range extends up to C5. The low extreme for tenors is roughly A♭2 (two A♭s below middle C). At the highest extreme, some tenors can sing up to the second F above middle C (F5). The tenor voice type is generally divided into the leggero tenor, lyric tenor, spinto tenor, dramatic tenor, heldentenor, and tenor buffo or spieltenor.
A baritone is a type of classical male singing voice whose vocal range lies between the bass and the tenor voice-types. The term originates from the Greek βαρύτονος (barýtonos), meaning "heavy sounding". Composers typically write music for this voice in the range from the second F below middle C to the F above middle C (i.e. F2–F4) in choral music, and from the second A below middle C to the A above middle C (A2 to A4) in operatic music, but the range can extend at either end. Subtypes of baritone include the baryton-Martin baritone (light baritone), lyric baritone, Kavalierbariton, Verdi baritone, dramatic baritone, baryton-noble baritone, and the bass-baritone.
A contralto is a type of classical female singing voice whose vocal range is the lowest female voice type.
Pelléas et Mélisande is an opera in five acts with music by Claude Debussy. The French libretto was adapted from Maurice Maeterlinck's symbolist play of the same name. It premiered at the Salle Favart in Paris by the Opéra-Comique on 30 April 1902; Jean Périer was Pelléas and Mary Garden was Mélisande, conducted by André Messager, who was instrumental in getting the Opéra-Comique to stage the work. The only opera Debussy ever completed, it is considered a landmark in 20th-century music.
The German Fach system is a method of classifying singers, primarily opera singers, according to the range, weight, and color of their voices. It is used worldwide, but primarily in Europe, especially in German-speaking countries and by repertory opera houses.
George London was an American concert and operatic bass-baritone.
Joseph, Baron Van Damme, known as José van Dam, is a Belgian bass-baritone.
A Heldenbaritone, also known as dramatic bass-baritone or hoher bass , is an opera singer, a German dramatic baritone.
Jean-François Lapointe is a Canadian baritone opera singer.
Gustav Neidlinger was a German bass-baritone most famous as the pre-eminent leading performer of Wagner's "howling-and-spitting" villains, especially Alberich and Klingsor, from the early 1950s to the early 1970s. Born in Mainz, Neidlinger studied at the Frankfurt conservatory, where he was trained by Otto Rottsieper. He debuted in 1931 at the Stadttheater in Mainz, where he sang until 1934. In 1934 and 1935, he performed at the Stadttheater in Plauen, Sachsen. From 1935 to 1950, he was a member of the Hamburg opera, where In 1937 he took part in the world premiere of the opera Schwarzer Peter by Norbert Schultze. In 1950, he joined the Stuttgart Staatsoper, where he became very popular and was, in 1977, named an honorary member. In Stuttgart, he sang in Igor Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress. In 1956 he moved to the Vienna Staatsoper, where he had sung as early as 1941. He also sang at the Paris Opéra (1953–67) and at Covent Garden in London in tandem with the Stuttgart ensemble. He was honored with the title German Kammersänger in 1952.
Thomas Stewart was an American bass-baritone who sang an unusually wide range of roles, earning global acclaim particularly for his performances in Wagner's operas.
Sir Willard Wentworth White, OM, CBE is a Jamaican-born British operatic bass baritone.
Bernd Weikl is an Austrian operatic baritone, particularly known for his performances in the stage works by Richard Wagner. He also has written books and directed operas.
Wolfgang Brendel is a German opera singer (baritone), and a professor of voice at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. He has performed throughout Europe, Asia, and North America.
A bass is a type of classical male singing voice and has the lowest vocal range of all voice types. According to The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, a bass is typically classified as having a vocal range extending from around the second E below middle C to the E above middle C (i.e., E2–E4). Its tessitura, or comfortable range, is normally defined by the outermost lines of the bass clef. Categories of bass voices vary according to national style and classification system.
Adrian Eröd is an Austrian operatic baritone. He is the son of composer Iván Erőd.
Martin Babjak is a Slovak operatic baritone. The winner of several international singing competitions, he has been a principal singer at the Slovak National Theatre since 1989. He has also appeared as a guest artist at opera houses in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, France, Norway, Egypt, Canada, the United States, Japan, and the Czech Republic. He has particularly excelled in portraying roles from the operas of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Giacomo Puccini, and Giuseppe Verdi.
Jaroslav Souček was a Czech operatic baritone who had an active career in his native country from 1960 through 1997. He sang a broad repertoire that encompassed roles from Czech, English, French, German, Italian, and Russian operas from a variety of musical periods. He was also active as a concert singer and performed numerous times with the Czech Philharmonic. His voice is preserved on a number of Czech radio broadcasts and CD and DVD recordings made on the Supraphon label.
Markus Werba is an Austrian baritone opera singer.
Theodor Bertram was a German bass-baritone prominent in the operas of Richard Wagner. A regular performer at the Bayreuth Festival from 1901 to 1906, he was greatly admired for his portrayals of Wagnerian heroes and particularly Wotan. Bertram was born in Stuttgart and died by suicide in Bayreuth following the death of his second wife, Lotte Wetterling. His first wife was the soprano Fanny Moran-Olden who was also a prominent Wagnerian singer.