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Intention on rewriting[edit]

I've never said this before on wikipedia, trying to keep some sort of netiquette, but I must say that this article is nearly, completely rubbish. Colorature is hardly the art of ornamentation - it's either a long passage in vocal music that is sung quickly on a single syllable and was exceedingly common in the baroque and classical era, especially in bel canto works. In Italian the common word for this used to be "fioritura" and therefore the world "coloratura" was not common. It also has very much to do with vocal types - a coloratura soprano is a soprano that has the vocal ability to go over C#6 and whose tessiture is A4-A5 or higher (unlike lower sopranos whose tessiture is G4-G5 or lower).

To the person above, who correctly defines the coloratura voice, many, many thanks, being a colortura myself. However, it should be noted that the range of colortura is not just the ability to sing over C#6, but whose lower range can bottom as low as the key of C an octave below middle C. User: Stephanie712-Lisa 14:34, 5 December 2007 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

I have every intention of nearly completely rewriting this as soon as possible. John Holly 08:47, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

I have added information necessary to the correct scholarly and practical understanding of the term. The arguments against using "coloratura" to describe voice types, flexibility, facility and range are specious, although as I've specified, there are coloratura voices in all vocal ranges. The "soprano coloratura" specifically is range-related - she must be able to reach notes which almost all other soprano voices cannot sing with beauty (if at all), as well as have a facility for rapid passage work. This caveat is not true for other coloratura-type voices - there is no specific requirement for vocal range in mezzo coloratura, tenors with coloratura ability, baritones with coloratura, contraltos who specialise in coloratura work (and which of them doesn't? Scarcely any with whom I've worked - understandably so, since most of the professional work for contraltos is in oratorio, requiring reasonably good coloratura technique), and basses who are coloratura-enabled (rare, though, to find a good coloratura bass).

I have included the derivation of the term, without which this entry was threadbare.

I have added information concerning the closely related vocal (and instrumental) techniques for much early music. --Almirena 09:40, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

I remember reading somewhere (but can't remember where, or I'd put it in here) that "coloratura" is not Italian at all, but rather the Anglicisation of the German term "Koloratur". Perhaps this will jog someone's memory and this can be cleared up. Safebreaker 08:07, 29 September 2007 (UTC)

That is not the case, Safebreaker. The term derived from the Italian. The German term is a German translation from the Italian. There isn't a textbook or primary source text I studied for my music degree which states otherwise. I note there is a piece of misinformation claiming this odd thing on one particular online encyclopaedia, but that merely serves as a good example why one should not trust such unvalidated encyclopaediae. If you're unsure about the derivation, I can include references to early singing manuals in the Italian, which include the term, or I can direct you to the New Harvard Dictionary of Music. If you don't have access to those, please take a look at the etymological information in the OED, which clearly states the term's derivation from the late Latin. For the purpose of this article, it merely becomes confusing to distinguish between the late Latin and the Italian into which it was already developing. I hope that clears up any confusion. --Almirena 02:35, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
Didn't want to make an "issue" out of it, but I thought I'd read it somewhere in one of those white things with black all over them. Must be old age playing its tricks... Safebreaker (talk) 20:55, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

Asian opera[edit]

The note on Asian opera could do with a concrete example, as I doubt that ALL female operatic roles in Asian are coloratura soprano. Quill 22:05, 4 September 2005 (UTC

Agree! although the note is taken away I say this for the future: I would say almost no dan in Beijing opera is a coloratura in western sense. Furthermore the term opera in Chinese opera (xiju) is highly controversal because you transfer a western concept to a very own dramatic tradition with a long separate history, and then talk about coloratura is just to boost that kind of misbehaviour. Yiwa 07:51, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

Removed fancruftic text[edit]

"Christina Aguilera (who has hit notes from C#6 to C7), Whitney Houston (who hit notes from G6 to B♭6 in a live performance of I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) in Dubai) "

When did whitney hit a B-flat near seventh octave? Did I miss something Antares33712 15:50, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

There's still nonsense about Mariah Carey and Celine Dion in the article, and I didn't remove it because they referenced it. "Coloratura soprano" is used in opera, though not as a description of fach (voice type/range). I've NEVER heard it used in reference to pop music (whoever put that in the article probably found the single instance of it in pop criticism), and applying it to pop music - especially to artists who are NOT coloratura sopranos - is probably a mistake. Several of the most famous modern coloraturas are Joan Sutherland and Beverly Sills. I don't doubt that Mariah Carey could be referred to as a "coloratura soprano" - but it's just not pop terminology. 08:37, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

For goodness sake, Whitney Houston & Celine Dion aren't coloratura sopranos! If the article was about mezzo-sopranos, I would have no problem seeing their names mentioned but for the coloratura article, it is just simply wrong! The highest note that they hit is C6. A true coloratura soprano must hit at least F6 and these two singers have never done that either in studio or live!

Dead on![edit]

Mariah Carey - by her own description is an ALTO with a high range (her speaking voice bears this out) :) Contemporary Singer Sandi Patti has been described as a Coloratura. I would also think Jodi Benson (Ariel from the Little Mermaid) would be considered Coloratura, as this term refers to description and not range. KoshVorlon 16:19, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

How is Jodi Benson a coloratura? She has not done anything associated with it (trills, melisma, arpeggios, notes above C6). Whitney is a coloratura because she has done this and to say a coloratura has to hit F6 is stupid. F6 is the highest usable note in opera by coloratura, but the highest note ever in opera is G6, and you said that the term is only for coloratura. Go on youtube and type in Whitney's high notes and she hits F6 in it.


How is Jodi Benson a coloratura? She has not done anything associated with it (trills, melisma, arpeggios, notes above C6). Whitney is a coloratura because she has done this and to say a coloratura has to hit F6 is stupid. F6 is the highest usable note in opera by coloratura, but the highest note ever in opera is G6, and you said that the term is only for coloratura. Go on youtube and type in Whitney's high notes and she hits F6 in it.

Whitney Houston has sung up to C6 - in the song "I wanna dance with somebody". (I'll address this in more detail below.) She has not, as far as I've heard, sung F6, and no search on Youtube as you suggest turns up any such recording. But that is in a sense irrelevant. What's important is the integration of one's top notes with the rest of one's voice.
The tessitura of "I wanna dance with somebody" is middle-voice, hovering in the chorus around F#4 and A#4, with the word "heat" sung slightly higher on C#5. It later moves higher to the key of Ab major, and there most of what is sung is between Ab4 and C5, with (again) the word "heat" higher on Eb5. But even on the word "heat", you will notice that full voice is not used. Ms Houston just touches the note (not a high note at all) using head voice, and it is noticeably different in timbre to the rest of the phrase. This has become stylistic in singing this sort of song, but it also indicates a technique that is necessary for singers who use "belting" to avoid causing damage to vocal folds by bringing chest voice up higher than it should be. INTRINSICALLY, this means that a pop singer schooled in this technique cannot be a coloratura, as never will it be possible using this technique to create evenness up to the singer's natural top notes. You will also notice that the "ooh" which goes up to C6 is very lightly produced, without body, and does not match the "colour" of Ms Houston's middle voice in which she primarily sings.
A coloratura is not a middle voice mezzo-soprano or soprano who has a disconnected top range that sounds different to the rest of her voice. A coloratura voice is connected throughout, able to sing scales and legato lines throughout her entire range without sounding as though the "body" of her voice disappears above a certain note, and able to sing cleanly the sort of vocal demands made by much of Mozart's soprano repertoire, many of Handel's arias, a considerable body of Gounod and Massenet, the roles of Gilda and Violetta (Verdi), almost all Rossini roles, and so on. The true test of defining one's vocal range includes being able to produce the upper notes cleanly, consistently with full support (rather than in the style of a laugh or a hoot, as laughter is often considerably higher in pitch than one's sung range), and without technical re-pitching in the studio.
(Opera singers trained in the appoggio method often use this "laughter" sound in an exercise frequently referred to as "the siren". It is an exercise used to help the production of formants in the upper notes. It is never used in performance.)
If you're able to produce a recording of Whitney Houston singing Où va la jeune Indoue by Delibes, from the opera Lakmè, or a similar piece from the vast range of arias composed especially for the soprano coloratura, you will have proved your case of claiming that Whitney Houston is a coloratura. However, you're almost certain to find no pop singer who sings in that way, using that tessitura, because the vocal demands upon a true coloratura require the sort of training that pop singers do not undergo, and requires a timbre that is not required by pop singing (and is in fact inimical to the pop sound wanted).
Please do not make claims that can be shown to be incorrect. Whitney Houston is a fine pop singer, and by the tessitura of her voice is probably best described as a light mezzo-soprano who has specialised in the pop style ("belting"). She is not a coloratura soprano.
I'm aware of an online interview in which soprano Christine Schäfer appears to think that Whitney Houston's use of those light unbodied high notes makes her a coloratura, but it should be borne in mind that Ms Schäfer is not a vocal pedagogue, but a singer whose major speciality is in modern classical singing (Berg, Schönberg, Webern, etc.). Her throwaway (and possibly misquoted) comment is not supported by the major vocal pedagogues. --Almirena 09:27, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

Whitney hit the C6 lightly because she WANTED to, not because it was the only way she could. She's hit higher notes live and her voice is very powerful and agile. The definition of coloratura is florid vocal ornamentation in music or a singer who specializes in such- Whitney Houston —Preceding unsigned comment added by 5 octaves (talkcontribs) 02:56, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

There is a misunderstanding in your definition of "coloratura". If you claim that Whitney Houston is a soprano coloratura, please provide a citation to a recording of Whitney Houston singing in that range. As I said, the highest note I've heard her produce is C6, and that's not coloratura territory. Secondly, please provide an example of her singing a coloratura piece of music requiring coloratura technique. It would be fascinating to hear. Thirdly, since you claim that Whitney Houston "hit the C6 lightly because she WANTED to", please provide a citation or link to a recording of Whitney Houston singing a C6 in full voice matching the rest of her vocal timbre. Fourthly, please do not assume that because I say unequivocally that Whitney Houston is not a coloratura that I am denigrating her singing. I'm not - she is certainly one of the world's best singers of the "belting" style, and to be admired for her vocal talents. But we must be exact with terminology - there's no point in claiming such a controversial description of Whitney Houston's voice as "coloratura" if you haven't the evidence to support that claim. Edita Gruberova is a coloratura. Rita Streich was a coloratura. Joan Sutherland was a coloratura. Natalie Dessay is a coloratura. Cecilia Bartoli is a mezzo with coloratura - ditto with Vivica Genaux. You cannot really be suggesting similar techniques and vocal style - I think you've just merely misunderstood the application of the term. --Almirena 05:17, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
This discussion is really funny, I don't know why some people want Whitney to be like a opera singer isn't she as good as she is, a soul/r'n'b singer with fantastic voice. If she was asked to sing a Handel aria it would not sound good, and if an opera singer would be asked to sing her songs it would not be certain it would sound good either. Pop and classics are two different things with totally different voices and techniques. So, why make such a fuss about making parallells. Yiwa 08:50, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

Coloratura in Popular Music[edit]

When I think of coloratura in popular music I think of Freddie Mercury. "Freddie Mercury had a recorded range of four octaves (F2-E6)." "Biographer David Bret described his voice as 'escalating within a few bars from a deep, throaty rock-growl to tender, vibrant tenor, then on to a high-pitched, perfect coloratura, pure and crystalline in the upper reaches.'" From Freddie's Wikipedia page.[1] Traumatic (talk) 20:12, 24 January 2009 (UTC)

Coloratura vs Melisma[edit]

Could an expert please spell out the difference between coloratura and melisma. The techniques appear to be quite similar. Thanks. DavidRF (talk) 21:09, 30 January 2009 (UTC)

I guess melisma is on a single syllable, moves with an unbroken musical line, and does not include leaps, trills, rests, etc. Do you want info on this added to the article? I could try to research it, but I'm no expert. --Robert.Allen (talk) 01:55, 22 March 2010 (UTC)

Basic definitions[edit]

I removed some etymological and definition information which lacked citations and for which I did not find support:

  • The Latin word may also mean: "to heighten" or "to enliven".)[citation needed]
  • The term may also come from: colorazione (colouring, coloration)[citation needed] [looks like Italian]

--Robert.Allen (talk) 01:50, 22 March 2010 (UTC)

20th century music[edit]

The article confines coloratura to the 18th and 19th centuries. There are also good 20th century examples, although they usually are parodies of earlier styles. The most famous coloratura aria in English is Leonard Bernstein's GLITTER AND BE GAY from CANDIDE, written in the 1950s. CharlesTheBold (talk) 03:55, 29 April 2010 (UTC)