What are the Types and techniques of opera singing

What are the Types and techniques of opera singing
What are the Types and techniques of opera singing and how to sing opera Beginner's guild

Vocal in the opera genre is a subspecies of vocal art, which differs from other styles of performance in the breadth of its range. Sometimes it is called classical or academic. The fact is that academic singing is used mainly with classical music, which is an invariable part of operettas, romances and musicals. For example, in pop performance, the singer's voice is supported by equipment, it is processed and amplified, but in academic singing, the performer has to sound for the whole hall only due to his own voice. This is a whole art in which literally the whole body is involved.

What are the Types and techniques of opera singing 2


Types of opera singing

Manners of performance are divided into: melodious style, declamatory and coloratura singing. 

Singing style or cantilena

This type of performance is melodic. The sounds in it stretch, which adds softness and smoothness. It is the cantilena that allows the singer to fully reveal the expressive sound of his voice. 

Declamatory or recitative

Already based on the name, it can be assumed that recitative includes elements of conversation. It is a symbiosis of speech and song. The performer reads in a singsong voice, but at the same time, the intonation is preserved: interrogative notes, incentives, exclamations. Usually this manner is used in the intervals between arias, as a transitional element.  A recitative accompanied only by a harpsichord is called "secco" (literally, dry). But the accompaniment of reading by the orchestra is much more powerful and sounds richer. 


A performance that requires the performer to have excellent technical mastery of high notes. This singing is filled with complex techniques. The singer's voice in all registers sounds soft and powerful at the same time, the transitions are smooth, which creates the impression of ease of performance. Coloratura is a complex melody, but there are categories for different voices. So lyrical coloratura are written for light voices, and dramatic ones for larger ones. Assignment to a particular category depends on the range of the voice, its color. (ads1)

Types of voices in opera

There are many classifications of operatic voices. However, most often all categories are grouped into 7 types and they are divided by gender and altitude. Female Opera Vocals:

female Opera Singer

  • Soprano. The female soprano is the highest voice overall. In soprano, as in other types of voices, there is a division into subgroups depending on the timbre, range, color and weight of the voice. Thus stand out:
    • Subrette (roles of young, flirtatious girls in comedy genres and operettas).
    • Coloratura soprano.
    • Spinto-soprano (the color is darker than in the lyric; it has high light notes).
    • Lyric soprano.
    • Dramatic soprano.
  • Mezzo-soprano. Differs in sound volume and saturation. Its subgroups are coloratura, lyric and dramatic. 
  • Contralto. The lowest singing voice. Occurs rarely. Covers all notes of a small octave. Like the previous types, it is divided into coloratura, lyric and dramatic.(ads1)
Male opera singing:

Male Opera Singer

  • Countertenor. Highest male voice. 
  • Tenor. High male singing voice. It is also subdivided into lyrical and dramatic timbre.
  • Baritone. Medium sounding voice. Such a voice is universal and allows you to perform most of the heroic and love roles in the opera. 
  • Bass. The lowest voice. Has a deep sound. Height is distinguished:
    • bass cantante (high bass; melodic and melodious sound);
    • center (good sound in the low range);
    • bass profundo (low bass; thick, booming voice).
In opera singing, the following forms are distinguished by vocal numbers: solo and collective. The first includes an aria - a monologue of a singer or singer, which expresses his state of mind. This is a whole separate and complete work. But the ensemble and the choir are performed by more than one person. In an ensemble, two (duet), three (trio) and so on can sing. The choir, unlike other forms of singing, is used to create the right atmosphere, for example, natural disasters or battles. In operatic singing, the collective character has its own power. The choir often becomes even the main character of the whole performance. 

History and development

The genre of opera singing appeared relatively recently - five hundred years ago between the 16th and 17th centuries. Italy is considered to be the birthplace of opera. At that time, theatrical performances were popular, where the music was the background. The first authors who made an attempt to create a new genre initially called it "drama per musica" (drama on music). The collective desire of composers to revive the ancient Greek tragedy led to the fact that they themselves, without knowing it, became the founders of a completely new type of art, even if initially their plays differed significantly from classical opera.
History of Opera Singing

Prominent figures in opera art

 In 1607, the opera "Eurydice" by Mantue C. Montverdi was filled with drama and artistry. And already in 1639 a new term "opera" was introduced.(ads1)
Popular Celebrity of Opera Singing

Since the beginning of classical opera, it has been constantly changing. Different Italian schools changed the sound, established new rules and forms. There was a division of vocal numbers. The most significant changes in the opera belong to K. Gluck, where he managed to combine the best achievements of Italian opera in his tragedies (Alceste, Orpheus and Eurydice, etc.).

It is impossible not to note the influence of W. Mozart, who created unique works filled with expressive images and vivid emotions. He managed to absorb the best from Italian schools of different eras and create complex and multifaceted images, conflicts and tragedies in his works.

Romanticism of the 19th century brought new relationships to opera with other genres, which was popular at the time. It was then that a huge influence on its development was exerted by: G. Verdi, R. Wagner, M. Glinka, M. Mussorgsky.(ads1)
  Nowadays, the concept of opera in its traditional sense is becoming obsolete. Today, along with the orchestra, directors are adding contemporary sounds such as electronic music, overlaying urban sounds, or bringing the action of classical operas to the current era. Opera, as it once was, is a synthesis of music and theatrical performance. It cannot be said that the changes have affected modern singing - opera performers have become much younger, however, the techniques and methods of their training, the rules for staging the voice and its sound have remained unchanged even after five hundred years. 

How to learn opera - essential basics

It is impossible to give an unambiguous answer to the question of how to learn how to sing in the opera genre in a short time. Academic vocal is the art of operatic singing, which requires perfected skill and perseverance. Singers have spent years practicing the technique of mastering their voice, achieving a clear and powerful sound. It is possible to learn the technique on your own, but without an experienced teacher, there is a risk of forming the wrong habit from the very beginning, which will be difficult to get rid of in the future.  Experienced opera vocal teachers say that everyone can learn to sing at any age. There are psychological problems if a person is not confident in himself or some physiological features that can interfere. In other cases, it all depends on the efforts and efforts. 

The development of voice and hearing go hand in hand. Without one, the other is impossible. The basics of vocals usually fit up to a year maximum. In some cases, a person may begin to sing even at the second individual vocal lesson with a teacher, because he intuitively feels the voice, understands how to breathe.   It is important to remember that in order to simply sing beautifully, it will take a couple of months. This is not enough for the development of professional operatic vocals. Experienced singers devote more than one year to daily practices in order to achieve mastery in their field. Unique vocal data is a rare combination. All have individual characteristics of articulation, ligament endurance, muscle strength, as well as hearing and a sense of rhythm.  Features of classical vocals include:
  • wide range of voice;
  • ability to use natural resonators;
  • round, clear sound.
The first thing all vocals are based on is: proper breathing, articulation and resonators.


The base with which any teacher starts. Proper breathing while singing is the basis. You have to learn to breathe with your belly. Due to the ability of the singer to lower the diaphragm lower, it becomes possible to take in a large volume of air. And so that it does not end abruptly, you need to control his exhalation. Here are some exercises to learn how to breathe correctly with your stomach:


You need to lie on your back. After several deep breaths, put the book heavier on your stomach and try to lower and raise it with your breath. 


In this exercise, you can learn to control the exhalation. You need to sit in front of a burning candle and, taking a breath with your stomach, slowly blow on it, but do not extinguish it. The longer the flame flickers, the better. Proper breathing helps not only in vocals. The speech of people who regularly engage in such exercises becomes more melodic. They control their voice well and know how to expend air when talking. 
ATTENTION! With caution, do breathing exercises, especially at the beginning of training. Avoid dizziness. 


This term means a steady sound in both singing and voice formation. The supported voice is round, clear and free. This characteristic is very important when setting up a voice for singing .  The following exercise will help with the development of support. It is one of the most effective, despite the complexity.  Legs should be spread wide. Tilt the body forward and hang your arms. Then draw in the air with your stomach and exhale slowly, while lowering your hands down. Exhalation should be silent.  And you can whistle 30 times. To do this, you need to take in air and continuously exhale the sound "s". When all the air runs out, repeat again. (ads1)


These are cavities that are just below the vocal cords. Their function is to amplify the sound. It is believed that there are two types of resonators: head (high sounds are reflected in the head) and chest (sounds resonate in the trachea and bronchi). 
ATTENTION! Do not confuse the voice register and the resonator! The first is the segment of the voice range, and it allows you to sing higher or lower. The second is the voids in the body that are felt physically. It is due to the reflection of sound that it is amplified. 
The work with registers should be addressed after a person has learned to breathe in the stomach and lower the diaphragm.  To strengthen the voice, you need to pay attention to the larynx. She must be free. At the same time, men lower their Adam's apple, and women do it mentally. The voice will be as sonorous as possible if the resonance goes through the head. You need to imagine how the flow will get there.  The best exercise is "mooing". At the same time, it is necessary to listen and try to catch the feeling, when this very “mooing” appears in the head, then there will be a true resonance. 


Many people notice that singers lower their larynx when performing. In men, this is more noticeable because of the Adam's apple. It feels good when yawning. The task of the vocalists is to make sure that the sound comes not due to the wide opening of the mouth, but the lowering of the larynx. Moreover, so that this happens naturally, and not by force, otherwise the sound will be faded and inexpressive.  To lower the larynx, do the following:
  1. Open your mouth, fix it in this position, for example, trying to bite off an apple, and try to clearly pronounce the sounds: NGO, NGU, NGE, NGA.
  2. Train the tongue by pushing it out of the mouth with such force that it comes back on its own, like a frog. 
ATTENTION! The larynx, like the entire throat, should be as relaxed as possible while singing.(ads1)


Conversation and opera are completely different things in terms of articulation. When the singer relaxes the throat, lowers the larynx, the sounds that he begins to make should be legible. To do this, you need to train articulation. Patter will come to the rescue, gymnastics, as well as the old exercise using a foreign object in the mouth, as announcers train.  By the way, this is why many people have a question why, while singing, singers and singers articulate strangely, as if they are grimacing. This is because the articulation when speaking and singing are completely different. Performers pay great attention to the proper functioning of the mouth and vocal cords, so that the sound is not only clear and powerful, but the viewer understands the text. 


Chants are very important in order to prepare the voice for increased stress. Beginning singers of the adult vocal training course are advised to sing with their mouths closed. You only need to use the sound "hmm". The jaws must be open. Having performed a couple of notes in this way, you need to continue the exercise, but with your mouth open, using the sounds “ma”, “mo”, “mu”, etc. Having reached the maximum height, gradually lower back.
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