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The German Fach system (German pronunciation: [fax]; literally "compartment" or "subject of study", here in the sense of "vocal specialization") is a method of classifying singers, primarily opera singers, according to the range, weight, and color of their voices. It is used worldwide, but primarily in Europe, especially in German-speaking countries and by repertory opera houses.[1]

The Fach system is a convenience for singers and opera houses. It prevents singers from being asked to sing roles which they are incapable of performing, or roles for which their vocal timbre is dramatically unsuited. Opera companies keep lists of available singers by Fach so that when they are casting roles for an upcoming production, they do not inadvertently contact performers who would be inappropriate for the part.[2]

Below is a list of Fächer (German pronunciation: [ˈfɛçɐ]), their ranges as written on sheet music, and roles generally considered appropriate to each. When two names for the Fach are given, the first is in more common use today. Where possible, an English and/or Italian equivalent of each Fach is listed; however, not all Fächer have ready English or Italian equivalents. Note that some roles can be sung by more than one Fach and that many singers do not easily fit into a Fach: for instance some sopranos may sing both Koloratursopran and Dramatischer Koloratursopran roles. In addition, roles traditionally more difficult to cast may be given to a voice other than the traditional Fach. For instance, the "Queen of the Night" and "Violetta" are more traditionally dramatic coloratura roles, but it is difficult to find a dramatic coloratura to sing it (particularly given the extreme range). Therefore, these roles are often sung by a lyric coloratura.

Soprano Fächer

Lyrischer Koloratursopran / Koloratursoubrette

Dramatischer Koloratursopran

One must not mistake the Mozartian dramatic coloratura soprano with the Italian dramatic coloratura soprano. A singer that sings Konstanze, Donna Anna or Fiordiligi can not necessarily sing the Italian dramatic coloratura parts, due to other vocal demands. Imogene, Leonora and Violetta require a dramatic soprano voice and are most often sung by dramatic sopranos with an agile voice that can easily produce coloratura and high notes. Roles like Norma, Lady Macbeth, Odabella or Abigaille are good examples of Italian roles that are not necessarily a coloratura soprano (even though the score calls for coloratura singing), but a full bodied dramatic soprano with a voice that can handle extreme dramatic singing and that is flexible enough to sing coloratura. Giuseppe Verdi wrote many parts like this in his early years.

Deutsche Soubrette / Charaktersopran

Lyrischer Sopran

Jugendlich dramatischer Sopran

Dramatischer Sopran

Hochdramatischer Sopran

Mezzo-soprano Fächer


Lyrischer Mezzosopran / Spielalt

Dramatischer Mezzosopran

Contralto Fächer

Dramatischer Alt


Tiefer Alt

Tenor Fächer

Spieltenor / Tenor buffo


Lyrischer Tenor

Jugendlicher Heldentenor


Baritone Fächer

Bariton / Baryton-Martin

Lyrischer Bariton / Spielbariton




Lyrischer Bassbariton / Low lyric baritone

Dramatischer Bassbariton / Low dramatic baritone

Bass Fächer

Basso cantante / Lyric bass-bariton / High lyric bass

Hoher Bass / Dramatic bass-baritone / High dramatic bass

Jugendlicher Bass

Spielbass / Bassbuffo / Lyric buffo

Schwerer Spielbass / Dramatic buffo

Lyrischer seriöser Bass

Dramatischer seriöser Bass


  1. ^ "How to Determine Singing Range and Vocal Fach (Voice Type)". SingWise. 18 April 2020. Retrieved 2021-08-18.
  2. ^ Scott-Stoddart, Nina. "The Fach system of vocal classification". Halifax Opera Festival. Retrieved 2021-08-18.
  3. ^ a b c d Kloiber 2002, p. 899.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Kloiber 2002, p. 900.
  5. ^ "Opera Roles from Siegfried". Retrieved 2023-09-18.
  6. ^ a b c Anthony, Legge (1988). The art of auditioning. Rhinegold publishing limited. p. 55. ISBN 0946890242.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Kloiber 2002, p. 901.
  8. ^ "Opera Roles from La Bohème". Retrieved 2023-09-18.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Kloiber 2002, p. 902.
  10. ^ "Opera Roles from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg". Retrieved 2023-09-18.
  11. ^ "Opera Roles from The Queen of Spades". Retrieved 2023-09-18.
  12. ^ "Opera Roles from Der Rosenkavalier". Retrieved 2023-09-18.
  13. ^ "Opera Roles from Les Contes d'Hoffmann". Retrieved 2023-09-18.
  14. ^ "Opera Roles from Salome". Retrieved 2023-09-18.
  15. ^ a b c d Anthony, Legge (1988). The art of auditioning. Rhinegold publishing limited. p. 56. ISBN 0946890242.
  16. ^ Anthony, Legge (1988). The art of auditioning. Rhinegold publishing limited. ISBN 0946890242.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Kloiber 2002, p. 903.
  18. ^ a b c d Kloiber 2002, p. 905.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kloiber 2002, p. 906.
  20. ^ a b c d e f Kloiber 2002, p. 907.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Kloiber 2002, p. 908.
  22. ^ McGinnis 2010, p. 257
  23. ^ John Warrack and Ewan West, The Oxford Dictionary of Opera, 2nd edition, 1992. ISBN 0-19-869164-5
  24. ^ Huizenga, Tom (14 December 2011). "Talk Like An Opera Geek: Breaking Down Baritones". Deceptive Cadence. NPR.
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Kloiber 2002, p. 909.
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Kloiber 2002, p. 910.
  27. ^ Facsimile of score of Lulu from Universal Edition
  28. ^ Bass Guide, BBC Wales
  29. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Kloiber 2002, p. 911.
  30. ^ a b c d e f g Kloiber 2002, p. 912.
  31. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kloiber 2002, p. 913.