10 things they never told you about being a soprano

18 September 2017, 15:37

Soprano things - Liu Turandot

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

There are too many other sopranos, no one believes you can sing harmonies and your vocal range is the most precious (and fickle) item you own. These are the things no one ever told you about being a soprano…

1. There are too many other sopranos

Being one of many ‘default’ sopranos is no use at all on your path to greatness. You need your spotlight, and the occasional rehearsal where you’re the only one on your part, to truly glow like the shining star you are.


WELL you need to feel shiny if you’re going to be like Anna Netrebko one day.

 opera star

All hail, #Kween Trebs.


2. Nobody believes that you’re a proper musician

Composers have always wanted us on the melody because we do it best, not because we suck at harmonies, yeah?


Glad we cleared that one up. 


3. ... but sometimes, literally all you want to do is sing harmonies

In soprano land, completing an epic chord with a juicy accidental is the stuff of dreams.



4. Your range is a fickle mistress

One day, you’ll hit a high F and convince yourself you’ve hit the starry heights of Maria Callas-dom. The next day, you’ll have a frog in your throat and BAM you’ve lost four semitones.


Never trust the range. 


5. You teach yourself to hit high notes on an ‘ah’ vowel, then composers go and do this:

Handel Messiah high note

*Ahem* the people who wrote these notes in were male composers who have never known the pain of combining a high note with an ‘E’ vowel. Not fair.


6. You can never find a place to practise

‘Mum, why don’t we have sound-proofed walls in the house? The dogs keep howling when I practise my top B flats in the garage.’



7. When you think you’ve nailed the art of a fabulous coloratura, Ambroise Thomas goes and gives you this hideously manic cadenza:

Soprano Hamlet Ophelia cadenza

Couldn’t he have just given Ophélie a long high C or something?


8. At some point, you might pass out from singing 

When your breathing is this controlled and the notes are this high (see above), it can make you feel pretty drunk.*


* Avoid doing this on stage


9. You’ll never get a part in a musical written after 1980.



These precious vocal chords were not made for belting.


10. And when you land a lead role in an opera, you’ll feel constantly emotionally drained

‘What do you mean, why am I crying into my manuka honey? Are you not aware that poor Liù is currently under torture and about to take her own life???’

Liu - Turandot

Don’t expect anyone else to feel Puccini’s emotionally-draining genius as keenly as you.