The Distinction Between Soprano And Mezzo-Soprano Started Around The Middle of The 18th Century.


A female singer’s “mezzo” (Italian for “middle”) range is her middle vocal register.

According to Wallis Giunta, “A mid soprano is a colour and a range of voice that helps to distinguish what repertoire is best suited to a given sort of performer,” rather than just a vocal type.

The Distinction Between Soprano And Mezzo-Soprano Started Around The Middle of The 18th Century.

A mezzo’s range typically extends from the third note below middle C (A3) to the fifth note above middle C (A5) (two octaves higher). In contrast, Wallis’s singing range is a little bit larger.

When I play, I can go from C3 (one octave below middle C) all the way up to C6.

I rarely utilise extremes but rely heavily on the medium ground. For me, the range between middle C and the D two octaves above is where the colours are the most vibrant.

The range of a mezzo is not strictly defined, however it typically falls between that of a soprano and an alto.

A soprano’s vocal range allows her to confidently reach the high C, as well as to gradually lower her volume and fade out on that note.

However, mezzo-sopranos and mezzo-sopranos tend to sing in the middle of their range, though this doesn’t mean they can’t reach the upper registers.

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For Wallis, Reaching that High C would be More of a “Full-Throttle” Effort.

As composers moved away from exclusively using male voices in the 18th century, the distinction between sopranos and mezzo sopranos was required. Historically, they’ve been cast in supporting roles, especially as the sultry soubrettes.

The ideal mezzo has a voice that is darker and deeper than that of most sopranos, with a range of at least three octaves. Based on the depth and breadth of their voices, mezzo sopranos are further classified into three categories.

Many coloratura mezzos can reach the same high notes as sopranos, and their top notes tend to be their strongest. The lyrical mezzo is the most prevalent type and tends to sing in the centre of their range where they feel most at home.

Like their alto cousins, dramatic mezzos have rich, low voices that can nonetheless soar to the upper registers. In most pieces, coloratura mezzos occupy a special role. Countertenor castrati, males who underwent castration before reaching adolescence in order to preserve their higher voices, were commonly featured in operas up until the 18th century.

When the style went out of vogue, coloratura mezzos and even lyrical mezzos stepped in to fill the void because their voices were so comparable to countertenors’ in range and tone.

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Last Words

In the classical music world, there are two sorts of female voices: soprano and mezzo (short for mezzo-soprano). Female voices range from the highest soprano to the lowest mezzo. “contralto” would be used to describe the lowest one.

When singing in a choir, the lower female voice portion is called “alto” (the higher one also being called soprano). As there are almost never enough contraltos and mezzos (contraltos in particular are exceedingly scarce), some sopranos will be placed there to compensate, despite the fact that they really should not.