A sopranist (also known as male soprano) is a male singer who is able to sing in vocal tessitura of a soprano, usually through falsetto or head voice technique. This voice type is a specific kind of countertenor.[1] In rare cases an adult man may be able to sing in the soprano range using his normal or modal voice (high chest voice) and not falsetto due to endocrinological reasons, like Radu Marian, or as a result of a larynx that has not completely developed as is allegedly the case of Michael Maniaci.[2]


A sopranist is able to sing in the soprano vocal range which is approximately between C4 and C6, though at times may expand somewhat higher or lower. Men of all voice types can possess the wide-ranged and effective falsetto or head voice needed to produce the contralto, mezzo-soprano and soprano vocal ranges. Some countertenors can sing up into the female vocal tessituras using the modal register (normal singing production) and need not employ any falsetto.[3]

Controversy over the term male soprano

Typically, the term "soprano" refers to female singers but at times the term "male soprano" has been used by men who sing in the soprano vocal range using falsetto vocal production instead of the modal voice. This practice is most commonly found in the context of choral music in England. However, these men are more commonly referred to as countertenors or sopranists. The practice of referring to countertenors as "male sopranos" is somewhat controversial within vocal pedagogical circles as these men do not produce sound in the same physiological way that female sopranos do.[1] Radu Marian can refer to himself as a true male soprano because he is able to sing in the soprano vocal range using the modal voice.


There is a large body of music for the male soprano that was written when it was common to use a castrato – a voice type which, for all intents and purposes, no longer exists, as the practice of castrating trebles was abolished before the end of the 19th century. Sopranists are very rare, since most countertenors are altos and mezzos. In fact, probably because early famous countertenors were altos (like Alfred Deller), it was believed for a long time that countertenors can only be altos (and later, mezzo countertenors, like David Daniels or Jochen Kowalski were recognized). While there is some modern repertoire written for countertenors (sometimes written specifically for certain singers, like Britten's Death in Venice, which has a part that was written specifically for James Bowman), at present there are only a small number of modern pieces written specifically for the sopranist vocal type. An exception is Alfred Schnittke's 1995 opera Historia von D. Johann Fausten which calls for both a female alto and a male soprano Mephistopheles.

Notable sopranists

Present day notable sopranists include:

See also


  1. ^ a b McKinney, James (1994). The Diagnosis and Correction of Vocal Faults. Genovex Music Group. ISBN 978-1-56593-940-0.
  2. ^ a b "The man with the 300-year-old voice". The Times. London. 12 October 2007. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  3. ^ Giles, Peter (1982). The Countertenor. Muller Publishing Co.
  4. ^ "Simone Bartolini: Biography". Future Style. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  5. ^ "Aris Christofellis". Opera Verona. 2015.
  6. ^ a b Heilbut, Anthony (1 July 2012). "The Male Soprano". Believer Mag.
  7. ^ Heilbut, Anthony (2012). The Fan Who Knew Too Much. Alfred A. Knopf. p. 262. ISBN 9780375400803. edson cordeiro sopranista.
  8. ^ Lynn Jolicoeur; Sacha Pfeiffer (14 May 2014). "Shocked By His Own Voice: Male Soprano Soars In World's Smallest Vocal Category". WBUR-FM.
  9. ^ Melissa Lesnie (6 October 2013). "David Hansen: It's a Long Way to the Top". Limelight.
  10. ^ Answers.com. What type of voice is Russell Hitchcock? (online) Available at: https://qa.answers.com/other-qa/What_type_of_voice_is_Russell_hitchcock (Accessed: May 25th 2024).
  11. ^ Vyatcheslav Kagan-Paley bio from the Herman Braun Foundation
  12. ^ Quaquero, Myriam 'Una voce molto speciale', L'Unione Sarda June 2, 1997 (in Italian). Accessed 3 March 2019.
  13. ^ Mark Brown (12 April 2010). "Bath celebrates the life of the bedhopping singing star of the 1700s". The Guardian.
  14. ^ "Meet opera's rare male soprano". BBC News. Retrieved 23 July 2023.
  15. ^ Tom Ambrose (8 August 2021). "Tokyo thanks the world as closing ceremony marks the end of a unique Olympic Games". Evening Standard. London.
  16. ^ "Dariusz Paradowski". Countertenors. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  17. ^ Panarello, Joseph F. (5 June 2006). "Gender Bending with Brian Charles Rooney". Joseph F.
  18. ^ Robinson-Martin, Trineice (2016). So You Want To Sing Gospel. Rowman and Littlefield. p. 111. ISBN 9781442239210.
  19. ^ "가수 문지훈". countertenormoon.webnode.kr (in Korean). Archived from the original on 30 March 2023. Retrieved 4 July 2023.