Coloratura is an elaborate melody with runs, trills, wide leaps, or similar virtuoso-like material,or a passage of such music. Operatic roles in which such music plays a prominent part, and singers of these roles, are also called coloratura. Its instrumental equivalent is ornamentation.
Coloratura is particularly found in vocal music and especially in operatic singing of the 18th and 19th centuries. The word coloratura ( UK: // COL-ə-rə-TURE-ə, US: /-/ CUL-, Italian: [koloraˈtuːra] ) means "coloring" in Italian, and derives from the Latin word colorare ("to color").
The term coloratura was first defined in several early non-Italian music dictionaries: Michael Praetorius's Syntagma musicum (1618); Sébastien de Brossard's Dictionaire de musique (1703); and Johann Gottfried Walther's Musicalisches Lexicon (1732). In these early texts "the term is dealt with briefly and always with reference to Italian usage".
Christoph Bernhard (1628–1692) defined coloratura in two ways:
The term was never used in the most famous Italian texts on singing: Giulio Caccini's Le Nuove musiche (1601/2); Pier Francesco Tosi's, Opinioni de' cantori antichi e moderni (1723); Giovanni Battista Mancini's Pensieri, e riflessioni pratiche sopra il canto figurato (1774); Manuel García's Mémoire sur la voix humaine (1841), and Traité complet de l’art du chant (1840–47); nor was it used by the English authors Charles Burney (1726–1814) and Henry Fothergill Chorley (1808–1872), both of whom wrote at length about Italian singing of a period when ornamentation was essential.
The term coloratura is most commonly applied to the elaborate and florid figuration or ornamentation in classical (late 18th century) and romantic (19th century, specifically bel canto ) vocal music. However, early music of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, and in particular, baroque music extending up to about 1750, includes a substantial body of music for which coloratura technique is required by vocalists and instrumentalists alike. In the modern musicological sense the term is therefore used to refer to florid music from all periods of music history, both vocal and instrumental. : Koloratur) has been applied to the stereotypical and formulaic ornamentation used in 16th‑century keyboard music written by a group of German organ composers referred to as the "colorists" (German : Koloristen).For example, in Germany the term coloratura (German
Despite its derivation from Latin colorare ("to color"), the term does not apply to the practice of "coloring" the voice, i.e. altering the quality or timbre of the voice for expressive purposes (for example, the technique of voix sombrée used by Gilbert Duprez in the 1830s).
The term is not restricted to describing any one range of voice. All female and male voice types may achieve mastery of coloratura technique. There are coloratura parts for all voice types in different musical genres.
Nevertheless, the term coloratura, when used without further qualification, normally means soprano di coloratura. A coloratura soprano role, most famously typified by the Queen of the Night in Mozart's The Magic Flute , has a high range and requires the singer to execute with great facility elaborate ornamentation and embellishment, including running passages, staccati, and trills. A coloratura soprano has the vocal ability to produce notes above high C (C6) and possesses a tessitura ranging from A4 to A5 or higher (unlike lower sopranos whose tessitura is G4–G5 or lower).[ citation needed ]
Richard Miller names two types of soprano coloratura voices (the coloratura and the dramatic coloratura)as well as a mezzo-soprano coloratura voice, and although he does not mention the coloratura contralto, he includes mention of specific works requiring coloratura technique for the contralto voice.
Examples of coloratura music for different voice ranges include:
Opera is a form of theatre in which music is a fundamental component and dramatic roles are taken by singers. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor. Although musical theatre is closely related to opera, the two are considered to be distinct from one another.
A soprano ([soˈpraːno]) is a type of classical female singing voice and has the highest vocal range of all voice types. The soprano's vocal range (using scientific pitch notation) is from approximately middle C (C4) = 261 Hz to "high A" (A5) = 880 Hz in choral music, or to "soprano C" (C6, two octaves above middle C) = 1046 Hz or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which often encompasses the melody. The soprano voice type is generally divided into the coloratura, soubrette, lyric, spinto, and dramatic soprano.
A countertenor (also contra tenor) is a type of classical male singing voice whose vocal range is equivalent to that of the female contralto or mezzo-soprano voice types, generally extending from around G3 to D5 or E5, although a sopranist (a specific kind of countertenor) may match the soprano's range of around C4 to C6. Countertenors often are baritones or tenors at core, but only on rare occasions do they use their lower vocal range, instead preferring their falsetto or high head voice.
The musical term alto, meaning "high" in Italian, historically refers to the contrapuntal part higher than the tenor and its associated vocal range. In 4-part voice leading alto is the second highest part, sung in choruses by either low women's or high men's voices. In vocal classification these are usually called contralto and male alto or countertenor.
A contralto is a type of classical female singing voice whose vocal range is the lowest female voice type.
A mezzo-soprano or mezzo (; Italian: [ˌmɛddzosoˈpraːno]; meaning "half soprano") is a type of classical female singing voice whose vocal range lies between the soprano and the contralto voice types. The mezzo-soprano's vocal range usually extends from the A below middle C to the A two octaves above (i.e. A3–A5 in scientific pitch notation, where middle C = C4; 220–880 Hz). In the lower and upper extremes, some mezzo-sopranos may extend down to the F below middle C (F3, 175 Hz) and as high as "high C" (C6, 1047 Hz). The mezzo-soprano voice type is generally divided into the coloratura, lyric, and dramatic mezzo-soprano.
The whistle register is the highest register of the human voice, lying above the modal register and falsetto register. This register has a specific physiological production that is different from the other registers and is so-called because the timbre of the notes that are produced from this register is similar to that of a whistle.
Vocal range is the range of pitches that a human voice can phonate. A common application is within the context of singing, where it is used as a defining characteristic for classifying singing voices into voice types. It is also a topic of study within linguistics, phonetics, and speech-language pathology, particularly in relation to the study of tonal languages and certain types of vocal disorders, although it has little practical application in terms of speech.
In music, a cantus firmus is a pre-existing melody forming the basis of a polyphonic composition.
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.
A soubrette is a type of operatic soprano voice fach, often cast as a female stock character in opera and theatre. The term arrived in English from Provençal via French, and means "conceited" or "coy". A soubrette is also defined as a young woman regarded as flirtatious or frivolous.
A coloratura soprano is a type of operatic soprano voice that specializes in music that is distinguished by agile runs, leaps and trills.
The tenore contraltino is a specialized form of the tenor voice found in Italian opera around the beginning of the 19th century, mainly in the Rossini repertoire, which rapidly evolved into the modern 'Romantic' tenor. It is sometimes referred to as tenor altino in English books.
Bel canto —with several similar constructions —is a term with several meanings that relate to Italian singing.
Fioritura is the florid embellishment of melodic lines, either notated by a composer or improvised during a performance. It usually involves lengthy, complex embellishments, as opposed to standardized local ornamental figures such as trills, mordents, or appoggiaturas, and its use is documented as early as the thirteenth century. The alternative term coloratura is less accurate. It is closely related to the sixteenth-century practice of diminution or division.
A voice type is a group of voices with similar vocal ranges, capable of singing in a similar tessitura, and with similar vocal transition points (passaggi). Voice classification is most strongly associated with European classical music, though it, and the terms it utilizes, are used in other styles of music as well.
There is no authoritative system of voice classification in non-classical music as classical terms are used to describe not merely various vocal ranges, but specific vocal timbres unique to each range. These timbres are produced by classical training techniques with which most popular singers are not intimately familiar, and which even those that are do not universally employ them.
Soprano sfogato is a contralto or mezzo-soprano who is capable—by sheer industry or natural talent—of extending their upper range and being able to encompass the coloratura soprano tessitura. An upwardly extended "natural" soprano is sometimes called soprano assoluto.
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.