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The German Fach (pl. Fächer, literally "compartment" or also "subject (of study)", here in the sense of "(vocal) specialization") (German pronunciation: [ˈfax, ˈfɛçɐ]) 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.

The Fach system is a convenience for singers and opera houses. It prevents a singer from being asked to sing roles which he or she is incapable of performing. Opera companies keep lists of available singers by Fach so that when they are casting roles for an upcoming production, they do not inadvertently contact performers who would be inappropriate for the part.

Below is a list of Fächer, their ranges as written on sheet music, and roles generally considered appropriate to each. When two names for the Fach are given, the first is in more common use today. Where possible, an English and/or Italian equivalent of each Fach is listed; however, not all Fächer have ready English or Italian equivalents. Note that some roles can be sung by more than one Fach and that many singers do not easily fit into a Fach: for instance some sopranos may sing both Koloratursopran and Dramatischer Koloratursopran roles. In addition, roles traditionally more difficult to cast may be given to a voice other than the traditional Fach. For instance, the "Queen of the Night" is more traditionally a dramatic coloratura role, but it is difficult to find a dramatic coloratura to sing it (particularly given the extreme range). Therefore, the role is often sung by a lyric coloratura.

Soprano Fächer[edit]

Lyrischer Koloratursopran / Koloratursoubrette[edit]

Soprano C to F.svg

Dramatischer Koloratursopran[edit]

Soprano C to F.svg

One must not mistake the Mozartian dramatic coloratura soprano with the Italian dramatic coloratura soprano. A singer that sings Konstanze, Donna Anna or Fiordiligi can not necessarily sing the Italian dramatic coloratura parts, due to other vocal demands. Imogene, Leonora and Violetta require a dramatic soprano voice and are most often sung by dramatic sopranos with an agile voice that can easily produce coloratura and high notes. Roles like Norma, Lady Macbeth, Odabella or Abigaille are good examples of Italian roles that are not necessarily a coloratura soprano (even though the score calls for coloratura singing), but a full bodied dramatic soprano with a voice that can handle extreme dramatic singing and that is flexible enough to sing coloratura. Giuseppe Verdi wrote many parts like this in his early years.

Deutsche Soubrette / Charaktersopran[edit]

Soprano C to C.svg

Lyrischer Sopran[edit]

Soprano B to C.svg

Jugendlich dramatischer Sopran[edit]

Soprano A to C.svg

Dramatischer Sopran[edit]

Soprano A to C.svg
  • English equivalent: full dramatic soprano
  • Range: From about the A below middle C to the C two octaves above middle C
  • Description: Characterized by their rich, full sounding voices, dramatic sopranos are expected to project across large orchestras, a feat that requires a powerful sound. Dramatic sopranos are not expected to have the vocal flexibility of the lighter Fächer. Although most dramatic sopranos have a darker, more robust quality to the voice, there are some that possess a lighter lyrical tone. In these instances, however, the substantial amount of volume and endurance normally associated with the dramatic soprano voice is still present. The darker voiced dramatic soprano may even make a foray into the dramatic mezzo-soprano territory with great success.

Two roles mentioned above, Salome and Die Kaiserin, are relatively high dramatic sopranos and require that the soprano can endure long stretches of very high tessitura. Richard Strauss himself said that Salome should be sung by someone with the flexibility of a dramatic coloratura due to the high tessitura.

Hochdramatischer Sopran[edit]

Soprano F to C.svg

Mezzo-soprano and Contralto Fächer[edit]


Soprano G to B.svg

Lyrischer Mezzosopran / Spielalt[edit]

Soprano G to B.svg

Dramatischer Mezzosopran[edit]

Soprano G to B.svg

Dramatischer Alt[edit]


Tiefer Alt[edit]

Tenor Fächer[edit]

Spieltenor / Tenor buffo[edit]

Tenor C to B.svg


Tenor B to C.svg

Lyrischer Tenor[edit]

Tenor C to C.svg

Jugendlicher Heldentenor[edit]

Tenor C to C.svg


Tenor B to C.svg

Baritone Fächer[edit]


Lyrischer Bariton / Spielbariton[edit]

Baritone B to G.svg


Baritone A to G Sharp.svg


Baritone A to G Sharp.svg


Bass G to F Sharp.svg

Lyrischer Bassbariton/Low lyric baritone[edit]

Bass G to F Sharp.svg

Dramatischer Bassbariton/Low dramatic baritone[edit]

Bass G to F Sharp.svg

Bass Fächer[edit]

Basso cantante/Lyric bass-bariton/High lyric bass[edit]

Bass E to F.svg

Hoher Bass/Dramatic bass-baritone/High dramatic bass[edit]

Bass E to F.svg

Jugendlicher Bass[edit]

Bass E to F.svg
  • English equivalent: young bass
  • Range: From about the E below low C to the F above middle C (E to f')
  • Description: A young man (regardless of the age of the singer).
  • Roles:

Spielbass/Bassbuffo/Lyric buffo[edit]

Bass E to F.svg

Schwerer Spielbass/Dramatic buffo[edit]

Bass C to F.svg

Lyrischer seriöser Bass[edit]

Bass C to F.svg

Dramatischer seriöser Bass[edit]

Bass C to F.svg


  1. ^ a b c d Kloiber 2002, p. 899.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Kloiber 2002, p. 900.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Kloiber 2002, p. 901.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Kloiber 2002, p. 902.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Kloiber 2002, p. 903.
  6. ^ a b c d Kloiber 2002, p. 905.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kloiber 2002, p. 906.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Kloiber 2002, p. 907.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Kloiber 2002, p. 908.
  10. ^ John Warrack and Ewan West, The Oxford Dictionary of Opera, 2nd edition, 1992. ISBN 0-19-869164-5
  11. ^ Tom Huizenga, (http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2011/12/14/143706798/talk-like-an-opera-geek-breaking-down-baritones), "Breaking Down Baritones"
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Kloiber 2002, p. 909.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Kloiber 2002, p. 910.
  14. ^ Bass Guide, BBC Wales
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Kloiber 2002, p. 911.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g Kloiber 2002, p. 912.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kloiber 2002, p. 913.