Ok people i want to start bthe tradition of creating lists of people within the realms of classical music. It could be a list of best composers, best Tenors or best operas. Today we will rate the best ever top 10 Soprano singers as compiled by Sinfini Music. I know its tough rating singers so if you do not agree with this list please tell us you own views or better still send you list to my mail.
‘The Queen of La Scala’, ‘La Divina’, ‘The Bible of Opera’ – who else but Maria Callas? The soprano saw herself as two people – Callas the artist, and Callas the woman – but for audiences it was the intoxicating blur of the two that would elevate her from performer to legend. Callas’s repertoire extended from the frothy bel canto of Donizetti to Wagner.Tosca, however, will always be Callas’s greatest role. Her passionate declaration ‘Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore’ (‘I lived for art, I lived for love’) might just as easily have been the singer’s own.
When Pavarotti calls you ‘the voice of the century’, you know you’re something special. Perhaps the best coloratura soprano of all time, Sutherland was celebrated for her extraordinary range, silvery tone, and for her agility. A chance encounter with ‘a young pianist from Bondi’ changed her life; Richard Bonynge became her husband and musical mentor, steering her away from Wagner and into bel canto repertoire. Famously down to earth, Sutherland nevertheless found her niche in Donizetti and Bellini’s histrionic and highly-strung heroines – Lucia, Norma, Amina – though her own favourite was tomboy Maria in joyous comedy La fille du régiment.
In April 1965 American mezzo Marilyn Horne pulled out of a performance of Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia at Carnegie Hall. By May her last-minute replacement had become a star. Caballé’s swift success, and a career that saw her perform at New York’s Metropolitan Opera an astonishing 99 times, was driven by her infamously good technique. Capable of enormous feats of breath control and extreme pianissimos, she quickly established herself as a major player in the bel canto revival. Singing all the major Verdi, Donizetti and Bellini heroines, Caballé’s greatest (and most unexpected) hit was her brief foray into pop music – duetting with Freddie Mercury on ‘Barcelona’.
Kiri Te Kanawa
A voice of unusual warmth and mellowness set New Zealand soprano Kiri Te Kanawa apart. Sir Colin Davis remembers an early audition: ‘I couldn’t believe my ears, it was such a fantastically beautiful voice.’ It was a voice made for noble, sensuous roles – Strauss’s Marschallin, Elisabeth de Valois, Anna Bolena. Her big break came as Countess Almaviva inThe Marriage of Figaro at Covent Garden, but more dramatic was her Met debut – stepping in to sing her first Desdemona at three hours’ notice. Offstage, Kanawa made headlines with her rendition of ‘Let the Bright Seraphim’ at Charles and Diana’s wedding.
Singing was only Austrian-Slovak soprano Popp’s third career choice, flirting with medicine and theatre before settling on music. Her gilded voice went through a similar metamorphosis, maturing from a student mezzo to a youngcoloratura soprano (singing perhaps the finest Queen of the Night on record), before developing a weightier, lyric quality suited to Wagner as well as Mozart – eventually Eva from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg would become one of her most successful roles. Girlishly pretty and good tempered, Popp was anything but a classic diva, and this same sweetness pervades her many recordings, which include lieder as well as the classic operatic roles.
‘In my long life, I have met maybe two sopranos with this quality of singing.’ But who were Sir Georg Solti’s star sopranos? Renata Tebaldi and Renée Fleming. Winning the Metropolitan Opera Auditions was a major turning point for Fleming; she was booked to sing the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro at Houston Grand Opera, making a spectacular debut. Since then this rich, lyric soprano, the Met’s go-to diva, has roamed widely across traditional boundaries of repertoire, singing Strauss, Verdi and Mozart, as well as contemporary music. Fleming has also appeared on Sesame Street (singing Rigoletto).
Victoria de los Ángeles
A soprano with no real interest in the limelight; an innocent playing opera’s scandalous women: Victoria de los Ángeleswas opera’s most delightful paradox. After winning a major singing competition, the 24-year-old De los Ángeles received a phone call from La Scala: could she come immediately and audition? She declined; she had promised to go straight home to her parents. It proved no setback, and the soprano made her debut at the Met, Covent Garden and La Scala in a single triumphant season. Puccini, Debussy, Wagner – De los Ángeles sang it all, but was always happiest on the concert platform.
With a personality to match her powerful voice, Jessye Norman is a fixture among opera’s legends. The African-American soprano couples sheer power with a richness and depth of tone that was made for Wagner’s heroines – Isolde, Elisabeth, Kundry, Sieglinde – Strauss’s songs, as well as Purcell’s Dido and Gluck’s Alceste. Norman was also the first singer to appear at the Met in a single-character production –Schoenberg’s Erwartung. Sadly Norman’s musicality and career (launched with a win at the Munich Competition in 1968) have latterly been eclipsed by a long-running libel case – a sad postscript to the career of a monumental artist.
In 2007 Anna Netrebko became the first soprano to feature in Time magazine’s Time 100 list. Her story is a musical fairy tale, from cleaning floors at the Mariinsky Theatre to making her debut at just 22. Her breakthrough Donna Anna at the Salzburg Festival in 2002 led to engagements at La Scala, Covent Garden and Carnegie Hall. Netrebko’s gilded, lyric soprano, good looks and acting abilities make her a natural fit for opera’s great heroines – Mimì, Violetta, Juliette. This year she made history as the first soprano ever to headline three consecutive Metropolitan Opera opening-night galas – Anna Bolena, L’elisir d’amore, and 2013’s Eugene Onegin.
A protégée of Herbert von Karajan, Gundula Janowitz might yet take the crown as the finest Mozart soprano of all time. Her lyric voice had an unusual purity, and a clarity that compensated for any weaknesses of projection, allowing her to sing Wagner’s Sieglinde and Elsa as well as the lighter roles of Pamina and Marzelline. Recordings of The Magic Flute with Klemperer and Strauss’s Four Last Songs with Karajan remain her highlights, though she is perhaps best known as one half of the duet, with Edith Mathis, from The Marriage of Figaro that causes such a stir in The Shawshank Redemption.