A coloratura soprano is a type of operatic soprano who specializes in music that is distinguished by agile runs and leaps. The term coloratura refers to the elaborate ornamentation of a melody, which is a typical component of the music written for this voice. Within the coloratura category, there are roles written specifically for lighter voices known as lyric coloraturas and others for larger voices known as dramatic coloraturas. Some roles may be sung by either voice. For example, Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor was famously done at the Metropolitan Opera for many years by lyric coloratura Lily Pons, whose voice was quite small and light, but more recently the same role was sung by Ruth Ann Swenson whose voice is larger and duskier and latterly with even greater effect by Maria Callas whose dramatic interpretation still casts a long shadow. This way, some dramatic coloraturas have been extremely successful in singing the lighter roles. Categories within a certain voice range are determined by the size, weight and color of the voice.
Lyric coloratura soprano 
A very agile light voice with a high upper extension, capable of fast vocal coloratura. Lyric coloraturas have a range of approximately middle C (C4) to "high F" (F6). Such a soprano is sometimes referred to as a soprano leggero if her vocal timbre has a slightly warmer quality. The soprano leggero also typically does not go as high as other coloraturas, peaking at a "high E" (E6). Bel canto roles were typically written for this voice, and a wide variety of other composers have also written coloratura parts. Baroque music, early music and baroque opera also have many roles for this voice.
- To hear an example of a lyric coloratura soprano (Laura Claycomb in the role of Olympia from The Tales of Hoffman) click on this link: Watch Here
Lyric coloratura singers 
Soprano Leggero singers 
Dramatic coloratura soprano 
A coloratura soprano with great flexibility in high-lying velocity passages, yet with great sustaining power comparable to that of a full spinto or dramatic soprano. Dramatic coloraturas have a range of approximately "low B" (B3) to "high F" (F6). Various dramatic coloratura roles have different vocal demands for the singer - for instance, the voice that can sing Abigail (Nabucco, Verdi) is unlikely to also sing Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor, Donizetti), but a factor in common is that the voice must be able to convey dramatic intensity as well as flexibility. Roles written specifically for this kind of voice include the more dramatic Mozart and bel canto female roles and early Verdi. This is a very rare vocal fach, as thick vocal cords are needed to produce the large, dramatic notes, which usually lessens the flexibility and acrobatic abilities of the voice. One notable performer, who had excelled at this particular repertoire in the 20th Century, was Maria Callas. By classification, Maria Callas was a true soprano sfogato, specialized in both dramatic and lyric coloratura soprano roles.
Dramatic coloratura singers 
Soprano acuto sfogato 
In rare instances, some coloratura sopranos are able to sing above high F (F6) with great ease. These coloraturas are sometimes referred to as sopranos acuto sfogato. Although both lyric and dramatic coloraturas can be acuto sfogato sopranos, the primary attribute of the acuto sfogato soprano is a light and easy upper extension above F6 making it more unusual for a singer with a darker or heavier sound to fit the bill. Dolmetsch Online - Music Dictionary Sf - Si Examples of acuto sfogato sopranos who regularly sang high notes above F6 include Lucrezia Agujari, Marianne Blok, Mina Foley, Susanna Foster, Gohar Gasparyan, Kathryn Grayson, Ingeborg Hallstein, Beverly Hoch, Ilse Hollweg, Petia Ivanova, Miliza Korjus, Mady Mesplé, Evgeniya Miroshnichenko, Carlotta Patti, Maria Remola, Mado Robin, Erna Sack, Sybil Sanderson, Aloysia Weber, Ruth Welting, and Ellen Beach Yaw. More contemporary examples are Patrizia Cigna, Natalie Dessay, Edita Gruberova Katarzyna Dondalska, Maria Aleida Rodriguez, Rachele Gilmore, Diana Damrau, Simone Kermes, Carla Maffioletti, Emma Matthews, Elena Moșuc, Cyndia Sieden, Anna Vikre, and Elisabeth Vidal. Examples of many of these singers' voices can be found on the internet. It should be noted that many famous high coloratura sopranos, such as Lily Pons, Toti Dal Monte, Rita Streich, and Amelita Galli-Curci for example, would not be classified as classic acuto sfogato sopranos because they did not sing in public above F6. An informal name for an acuto sfogato soprano is stratospheric coloratura soprano. The stratosphere is the area of very high notes above high F.
The soprano acuto sfogato is often confused with the soprano sfogato, a singer (often mezzo-soprano) capable of by sheer industry or natural talent to extend her upper range and be able to encompass the coloratura soprano tessitura. Maria Callas fits into this category.
Soprano acuto sfogato singers 
- Susanna Foster
- Gohar Gasparyan
- Kathryn Grayson
- Ingeborg Hallstein
- Beverly Hoch
- Ilse Hollweg
- Petia Ivanova
- Miliza Korjus
- Mady Mesplé
- Evgeniya Miroshnichenko
- Carlotta Patti
- Maria Remola
- Mado Robin
- Erna Sack
- Sybil Sanderson
- Aloysia Weber
- Ruth Welting
- Ellen Beach Yaw
Listen and compare 
It should also be noted that several of the dramatic soprano roles are also the province of lyric coloraturas, and that some dramatic coloraturas move easily between the lyric coloratura. Both voices can also sometimes sing roles into the lyric soprano, the soubrette and rarely the lirico spinto repertoire.
Listen to lyric coloratura Beverly Sills sing the following:
- The dramatic coloratura role of Violetta from La traviata. Click on this link: Watch Here (Compare to Sutherland below)
- The lyric coloratura role of Marie from La fille du régiment. Click on this link: Watch Here (Compare to Sutherland below)
Listen to dramatic coloratura soprano Joan Sutherland sing the following:
- The dramatic coloratura role of Violetta from La traviata. Click on this link: Watch Here (Compare To Sills above)
- The lyric coloratura role of Marie from La fille du régiment. Click on this link: Watch Here (Compare To Sills above)
Further reading 
- Boldrey, Richard (1994). Guide to Operatic Roles and Arias. Caldwell Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1-877761-64-5.
- Boldrey, Richard; Robert Caldwell, Werner Singer, Joan Wall and Roger Pines (1992). Singer's Edition (Light Lyric Soprano): Operatic Arias - Light Lyric Soprano. Caldwell Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1-877761-02-7.
- Boldrey, Richard; Robert Caldwell, Werner Singer, Joan Wall and Roger Pines (1992). Singer's Edition (Soubrette): Operatic Arias - Soubrette. Caldwell Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1-877761-03-4.
- Coffin, Berton (1960). Coloratura, Lyric and Dramatic Soprano, Vol. 1. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. ISBN 978-0-8108-0188-2.