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Vocal ranges
Female ranges

Male ranges


In music, a baritone (from Greek βαρυτονος 'deeply, heavily sounding') is a male voice of intermediate pitch, between bass and tenor. It is typically written for in the range G one octave and a fourth below middle C to E above middle C (i.e. G2-E4), though it is often extended at the top [1].


Types of baritone and baritone roles in operas

The baritone voice is may be subdivided as follows:

Dramatic baritone

A voice with a somewhat heavier, darker quality. A typical role for dramatic baritones in opera is a villainous role. This category cooresponds roughly to the Heldenbariton in the German fach system except that here we have separated out the Verdi baritones from these lower drammatic baritones. These roles are also called bass-baritone roles. Many of these parts are in operas by Wagner. Generally these parts do not rise above a F so they are within reach of basses who want to move up. James Morris is an example of a successful bass who moved into this repetoire with even more success.

Alberich (Das Rheingold)
Amfortas (Parsifal)
Escamillo (Carmen)
Hans Sachs (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg)
Pizarro (Fidelio)
Prince Igor (Prince Igor)
The Dutchman (Der fliegende Holländer)
Wotan (Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried)
Nick Shadow (The Rake's Progress)

The Tosca classification problem. The part of Scarpia in Tosca is a rare drammatic bass-baritone part in Italian opera. It only rises to a brief F# and has often been successfully assayed by basses like Sam Ramey and Ruggerio Raimondo and heldenbaritones like James Morris and George London. Scarpia can also be sung of course by by high Verdi Baritones like Leo Nucci or Sherill Milnes because it never goes very low.

The Don Giovanni classification problem. From the nineteen thirties through the nineteen eighties the title role of Don Giovanni was dominated at the Met by the star basses Ezio Pinza and then Cesari Siepi. At the 1788 premiere in Vienna the Don was sung by the lightest male voice among the low male parts. He is referred to as a baritone in most modern scores and in the New Grove Dictionary of Opera. In the German fach system the part of Don Giovanni is referred to as a Kavalierbariton.

The Vienna premier cast had the same singer (Bussani) sing Masetto and the Commendatore. He was a bass who also sang Bartolo in Le Nozze di Figaro and Alfonso in Così fan tutte. The part of Leporello was sung by the same singer (Benucci) who created the role of Gugliemo in Cosi and Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro - one of which is today cast with a baritone and the other with a bass.

In fact all the non-tenor male parts in Don Giovanni have exactly the same vocal range and can be sung by either a baritone or a bass. The part of the Commendatore today is almost always sung by a bass but the part of Masetto is usually split off and sung by another singer - often a baritone. The title role requires a good deal of stage presence and charisma and is therefore usually sung by the sexiest low male voiced singer available whatever his nominal vocal classification.

Lyric baritone

A voice that is lighter and perhaps mellower than the dramatic baritone. It is probably the most common of the baritone voice types. A typical role for a lyric baritone in opera is a comical role.

Enrico Ashton (Lucia di Lammermoor)
Eugene Onegin (Eugene Onegin)
Figaro (Il barbiere di Siviglia)
Fritz (Die tote Stadt)
Gianni Schicchi (Gianni Schicchi)
Hamlet (Hamlet)
Lescaut (Manon)
Papageno (Die Zauberflöte)
Peter (Hänsel und Gretel)
Rodrigo (Don Carlos)
Wolfram von Eschenbach (Tannhäuser)
Zurga (Les Pêcheurs de Perles)

  • Verdi baritone is a more specialized voice category, referring to a voice capable of singing consistently and with ease in the highest part of the baritone range, perhaps even up to the A above middle C. A typical role in opera for Verdi baritones is similar to the dramatic baritone: a cold-blooded villain.

Ezio (Attila)
Don Carlo (Ernani)
Germont (La traviata)
Gusmano (Alzira)
Il Conte di Luna (Il trovatore)
Macbeth (Macbeth)
Miller (Luisa Miller)
Nabucco (Nabucco)
Rigoletto (Rigoletto)
Iago (Otello)
Tonio (Pagliacci)
Gerard (Andrea Chenier)

The Verdi baritone

A very specific career. These parts are sung by specialists who can carry a great deal of voice above the staff. Almost all these parts have an aria which climaxes with a high G. The ideal Verdi baritone must have ring and bite. These baritones have dark qualities to their voices and must be able to project over a large orchestra (Much larger than orchestra's prior to Verdi's day). Verdi baritones must be ample actors and have the ability to protray both father's and villians. The voice needs to be able to sing from a high Ab and even a A, in some cases, down to a low A with hardly any change in color or dynamic. Verdi requires the baritone to sing both high and loud but also requires the voice to sing high sustained pianissimo's. These voices must be able to sustian a true and long legato and must have ample breath control. Before Verdi there were nearly no roles like this. Mozart has very high soprano parts and very low bass parts but only tenors sang as high as a G in his operas. Rossini, wrote his male parts for tenors and basses almost exclusively. Figaro in the comic opera Barber of Seville is the one notable exception. In the more typical comic opera Cenerentola there is one tenor and three basses. In his serious operas Rossini (Elizabeta, Ricciardo e Zoraide, Otello, Armida, etc.) the villain is sung by a tenor with good low notes. Most Bellini operas (Norma, Somnambula) have no high baritone parts. Bellini's last opera I Puritani has a real baritone part as does Ashton in Donizetti's Lucia. But in general there were no high baritone parts before Verdi.

The baryton-noble

French for 'noble baritone'. Describes a part that requires a noble bearing, smooth vocalisation and forceful declamation, all in perfect balance. This category originated in the Paris Opéra, but it greatly influenced Verdi (Don Carlo in Ernani and La forza del destino; Count Luna in Il trovatore; Simone Boccanegra) and Wagner, too. (Wotan; Amfortas)

Huascar Les Indes galantes (Rameau)
Oreste Iphigénie en Tauride
Créon in Medée
Guillaume in Guillaume Tell
Alphonse de Castille in La favorite
Comte de Saint-Bris in Les huguenots
Hamlet in Hamlet
Scindia in Le roi de Lahore
Hérode in Hérodiade
Jules-César in Cléopâtre
Golaud in Pelléas et Mélisande

The Martin baritone

A lighter, almost tenor-like voice developed at the Opéra Comique. Quite common also in operette and in French chamber music. Typical examples: Jean Perier; Hugues Cuénod; Camille Mauranne.

  • Pelléas Pelléas et Mélisande

Baritone Roles in Operettas and Musicals

Graf von Krolock (Tanz der Vampire)
Raoul (Phantom of the Opera), but tenors have played the role
Rueben (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat)
Pharaoh (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat)
Marius (Les Miserables), although it was written primarily for a tenor
Javert (Les Miserables)
Thénardier (Les Miserables)
Grantaire (Les Miserables)
Billy Bigelow (Carousel)
Tom Collins (Rent)
Chauvelin (The Scarlet Pimpernel) (requires extended range on top)
Monsieur Andre and Monsieur Firmin (Phantom of the Opera)
Pontius Pilate (Jesus Christ Superstar), though his climax may require falsetto
King Herod (Jesus Christ Superstar)
Rum Tum Tugger (Cats)
Harold Hill (The Music Man)
The Cat in the Hat (Seussical)
Horton the Elephant (Seussical)
Professor Henry Higgins (My Fair Lady)
Don Quixote/Cervantes (Man of La Mancha)
Fagin (Oliver!)
Jud Fry (Oklahoma!)
Curly (Oklahoma!)
Pseudolus (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum)
Max Bialystock (The Producers)
Franz Liebkind (The Producers)
Coalhouse Walker Jr. (Ragtime)
Benjamin Barker (Sweeney Todd)
Father (Ragtime)
Ko-Ko (The Mikado)
Sir Joseph Porter (HMS Pinafore)
Major-General Stanley (The Pirates of Penzance)
Baron Bomburst (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) (stage version)
John Adams (1776)
Thomas Jefferson (1776)
John Dickinson (1776)
Edward Rutledge (1776)
Billy Flyn (Chicago)
Dr. Frank-N-Furter (The Rocky Horror Show)
Princeton/Rod (Avenue Q)
Tevye (Fiddler on the Roof)
Hero (A Funny thing Happened on the way to the forum)
Kio (Pirates: a Romeo and Juliet Story)

Barbershop baritone

In barbershop music, the baritone part sings in a similar but somewhat lower range to the lead (singing the melody), but has a specific and specialised role in the formation of the four-part harmony that characterises the style. Because barbershop singers can also be female, there is consequently such a singer (at least in barbershop singing) as a female baritone. The baritone singer is often the one required to support or 'fill' the bass sound (typically by singing the fifth above the bass root). On the other hand, the baritone will occasionally find himself harmonising above the melody, which calls for a tenor-like quality. Because of the nature of barbershop arrangements the baritone part is invariably the most challenging to learn and the hardest to improvise.

Famous baritones

Classical music

Henri Albers
Thomas Allen
Robert Allman
Pasquale Amato
Mario Ancona
Georges Baklanoff
Ettore Bastianini
Mattia Battistini
Gino Becchi
Pierre Bernac
John Brownlee
Renato Bruson
Piero Cappuccilli
Jorge Chaminé
Robert Couzinou
Armand Crabbé
Emilio de Gogorza
Giuseppe De Luca
Michel Dens
Dale Duesing
Arthur Endrèze
Sir Geraint Evans
Jean-Baptiste Faure
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Tito Gobbi
Matthias Goerne
Nathan Gunn
Håkan Hagegård
Thomas Hampson
John Heddle-Nash
Wolfgang Holzmair
Gerhard Hüsch
Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Jorma Hynninen
Jean Lassalle
Sergei Leiferkus
Pavel Lisitsian
Alan Macdonald
Antonio Magini-Coletti
Bruce Martin
Camille Mauranne
Victor Maurel
Yuri Mazurok
Robert Merrill
Sherrill Milnes
Leo Nucci
Charles Panzéra
Jean Perier
Alexander Podolkhov
Hermann Prey
Thomas Quasthoff
Louis Quilico
Maurice Renaud
Heinrich Rehkemper
Titta Ruffo
Vladimir Ružđak
Emilio Sagi-Barba
Charles Santley
Paul Schöffler
Heinrich Schlusnus
Friedrich Schorr
Joseph Schwartz
Antonio Scotti
Donald Shanks
John Shirley-Quirk
Martial Singher
Michel Soulacroix
Gérard Souzay
Mariano Stabile
Riccardo Stracciari
Giuseppe Taddei
Carlo Tagliabue
Bryn Terfel
Lawrence Tibbett
John Charles Thomas
José van Dam
Domenico Viglione-Borghese
Eberhard Wächter
Leonard Warren
Neil Warren-Smith
Robert Weede
Bernd Weikl
Reinald Werrenrath
Gregory Yurisich

Contemporary music

  • Roger Whittaker

Popular music

Rick Astley
Paul Banks
Steve Barton
Colin Bass
Bo Bice
Mark Sandman
Colin Blunstone
Graham Bonnet
Pat Boone
Big Boi
David Bowie
Garth Brooks
Steve Brookstein
Michael Bublé
Gerard Butler
Jeremy Castle
Gustavo Cerati
Eric Clapton
Nat King Cole
Bing Crosby
Beto Cuevas
Ian Curtis
Dr. Dre
Glenn Danzig
Bobby Darin
Paul Di'Anno
Billy Eckstine
Nelson Eddy
Joey Fatone
Alejandro Fernández
Tiziano Ferro
David Gahan
Richard Gere
Kyle "Scarpia" Gordon
Robert Goulet
Adam Green
Josh Groban
Carlos Paulo Reyes
Trevor Guthrie
Rupert Holmes
Engelbert Humperdinck
Calvin Johnson
Aled Jones
Davy Jones
Maynard James Keenan
Lemmy Kilmister
Ben E. King
Hansi Kürsch
Blaine Larsen
Ryan Letizia
Huey Lewis
Till Lindemann
John Lithgow
Terrence Mann
Carlos Marín
John McCrea
Duane McDonald
Dan Miller
Jim Morrison
Peter Murphy
Billy Ocean
Mike Oldfield
Terry Oldfield
Roy Orbison
Neville Staples
Elvis Presley
Jonathan Pryce
Philip Quast
Alex Reed
Jim Reeves
Kenny Rogers
Darius Rucker
Graham Russell
Eskil Simonsson
Frank Sinatra
Jeff Scott Soto
Bruce Springsteen
Layne Staley
Scott Stapp
Ringo Starr
Terry St.Clair
Michael Stipe
Levi Stubbs
Ruben Studdard
David Sylvian
Rob Thomas
Luther Vandross
Eddie Vedder
Anders Wendin aka Moneybrother
Andy Williams
Joe Williams
Frank Zappa
Chris Cornell
Juha-Pekka "JP" Leppäluoto

See also

Home | Up | Sopranist | Alto | Tenor | Baritenor | Baritone | Bass-baritone | Bass

Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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