University of Tasmania
whole_SmithMarilynKaye1997_thesis.pdf (2.74 MB)

The mezzo-soprano voice : an attempt to qualify the voice through definition and examination of selected operatic repertoire

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posted on 2023-05-27, 17:34 authored by Smith, MK
In female voices, 'soprano' and 'contralto' are terms readily used to describe the high and low voice respectively. The term 'mezzo-soprano', on the other hand, has often added an air of confusion, as it refers to something in between. Because of this, the mezzo-soprano voice has become one of the least understood and difficult of all voice types to define. The first section of this dissertation attempts to clarify the nature of the mezzo-soprano voice, with emphasis on range, timbre, tessitura, registration and anatomy. A brief history of the emergence of the mezzo-soprano voice follows, leading into its development and acceptance as an operatic instrument. It is in opera that the real voice is revealed, with such variables as range and quality being linked to the roles that have to be portrayed. During its chequered history and its subsequent struggle for recognition, the demands upon and expectations of the mezzo-soprano voice have changed. By examining repertoire for the voice - from the time of the castrato, through to the prima donna roles of Rossini, the dramatic use of the voice by Verdi and the favouring of the voice by mid-ninteenth century French composers - the characteristics of the mezzo-soprano voice begin to emerge and its identification becomes much clearer.


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Copyright 1995 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (MMus)--University of Tasmania, 1997. Includes bibliographical references. Ch. 1. Classification and definition -- Ch. 2. The emergence of the operatic mezzo-soprano voice in the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries -- Ch. 3. The role of the mezzo-soprano in nineteenth century opera -- Ch. 4. Conclusion: the mezzo-soprano in the twentieth century

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