ANSWERS: 1
  • The German composer George Frideric Handel (1685-1749) wrote leading roles for true contraltos, a rare breed of female who can sing richly in a very low register. There are several types of true contralto. Because of modern music's tendency to feature higher voices, true contraltos face limited prospects.

    Function

    True contraltos are singers who can sing comfortably in the lowest possible tessitura or voice type, from F below middle C to A above the treble clef, according to Eric Myers in an article from "Opera News."

    Features

    True contraltos use the chest voice and sing in a low timbre. Their use of the chest register is higher in pitch than other voice types, according to classical singer and teacher David L. Jones.

    Significance

    True contraltos are very rare to find. Because of the lack of many true contraltos in opera, for example, mezzo-sopranos end up taking these parts.

    Famous Ties

    Famous true contraltos include Marian Anderson, Kathleen Ferrier, Maureen Forrester, and Ernestine Schumann-Heink, along with the jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald.

    Types

    There are several types of true contraltos, according to classical singer and teacher David L. Jones. These include lyrical contraltos and Wagnerian dramatic contraltos.

    Consideration

    According to contralto Maureen Forrester, there is a lack of prospects for true contraltos, as teachers and economic demands are forcing lower voices to go higher.

    Source:

    Operamania: Voice Types in Opera - Mezzo and Contralto

    Voice Teacher: Training the Contralto Voice

    Metoperafamily.org: The case of the vanishing contralto

    More Information:

    The St. Petersburg Times: So. Just What Is A True Contralto?

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