Introducing the mezzo soprano voice

Mezzo soprano is the second highest female voice type and “jokingly” is known for singing the roles of witches, bitches and britches in opera. 

The mezzo soprano repertoire sits overall lower than the soprano. Some lyric mezzos are able to sing very high and fast, versus the dramatic mezzo soprano voice which has a darker and richer tone and sings over a larger orchestra. 

Because of the qualities in the voice, this voice type gets to sing both roles such as pants roles, which are roles when a woman plays a young boy, or the more seductive roles including Carmen and Delilah

French classical composers such as Bizet, Gounod, Offenbach, Massenet and Berlioz loved to write for the mezzo soprano voice. However other classical composers such as Händel, Rossini, Verdi and Strauss have also written some amazing repertoire for this voice type. 

Recommended singers: Christa Ludwig, Frederica von Stade, Grace Bumbry, Elena Obraztsova, Dolora Zajick, Anita Rachvelishvili, Teresa Berganza, Joyce DiDonato, Marilyn Horne and Shirley Verrett

Below is a list of some songs I think would be a great first introduction to the mezzo soprano voice: 


Opera: Carmen
Composer: Bizet
Singer: Grace Bumbry  

Lascia ch’io pianga

Opera: Rinaldo (Almira)
Composer: Händel
Singer: Joyce DiDonato

Amour! viens aider ma faiblesse

Opera: Samson et Delilah
Composer: Saint-Saëns
Singer: Christa Ludwig

Una voce poco fa

Opera: Il barbiere di Siviglia
Composer: Rossini
Singer: Isabel Leonard

Acerba voluttà

Opera: Adriana Lecouvreur
Composer: Cilea
Singer: Elena Obraztsova

When I Am Laid In Earth

Opera: Dido and Aeneas
Composer: Purcell
Singer: Joyce DiDonato

O don fatale

Opera: Don Carlo
Composer: Verdi
Singer: Shirley Verrett

Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix

Opera: Samson et Delilah
Composer: Saint-Saëns
Singer: Elina Garanca

Do you have a favorite mezzo soprano singer or song? Please share in the comments!

1 thought on “Introducing the mezzo soprano voice”

  1. What a wonderful collection of mezzo soprano arias you have here. The version of Handel’s Lascia ch’io pianga, from Rinaldo is particularly beautiful. I especially love the acting, and the tempo – particularly the ‘B’ section, and how the tempo changes a little, before the da capo. What a beautiful rendition.
    The first opera I ever went to see/hear was Il barbiere di Siviglia. I was 12 years old, I went with my dad who was a huge opera fan. I absolutely adored it, especially the finale of Act I.
    The second opera I went to see/hear was Wagner’s Ring Cycle. All of it, in one week with the Welsh National Opera. I adored it. I was 13!

    I have to say that I fell in love with Maria Callas at a very young age, too. I always associate her voice with my late father, and – especially her 1953 recording of Tosca – it just takes me back to listening to that recording over and over with my dad. So, yes, Maria Callas is my absolute favourite singer.

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