Fach

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. 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

Soprano C to F.svg

Dramatischer Koloratursopran

Soprano C to F.svg

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

Soprano C to C.svg
  • English equivalent: Soubrette
  • Range: From about middle C (C4) to the C two octaves above middle C (C6)
  • Description: A beautiful, sweet light lyric voice usually capable of executing florid passages similarly to that of a coloratura. The range is usually intermediate between that of a coloratura and lyric soprano. Most sopranos start out as soubrettes, changing fach as the voice matures.
  • Roles:

Lyrischer Sopran

Soprano B to C.svg
  • English equivalent: lyric soprano
  • Range: From about B below middle C (B3) to the C two octaves above middle C (C6)
  • Description: A more supple soprano, capable of legato, portamento, and some agility; generally has a more soulful and sensuous quality than a soubrette, who tends to be largely flirtatious and somewhat tweety. The voice is very common; thus the purity and character of the basic timbre is essential. It is the "basic" soprano voice which is at neither extremes of the soprano range of voices; it is not known for having particular vocal attributes such as power, stamina, technical prowess, or agility. However, there are several lyric sopranos that possess a quantity of many of these vocal attributes, thus allowing them to sing a broader variety of roles. Nevertheless, the core of the true fundamentally lyric voice does not encompass such traits. Innocence, vulnerability and pathos are usually conveyed in the music written for the characters portrayed by the lyric soprano because of this endearing simplicity. This fach is also famous because the voices usually remain especially fresh until advanced age.
  • Roles:

Jugendlich dramatischer Sopran

Soprano A to C.svg

Dramatischer Sopran

Soprano A to C.svg

Two roles mentioned above, Salome and the Marschallin, are relatively high dramatic sopranos and require that the soprano can endure long stretches of very high tessitura. Richard Strauss himself said that Salome should be sung by someone with the flexibility of a dramatic coloratura due to the high tessitura.

Hochdramatischer Sopran

Soprano F to C.svg
  • English equivalent: High dramatic soprano
  • Range: From about the F below middle C (F3) to the C two octaves above middle C (C6)
  • Description: A voice capable of answering the demands of operas of Wagner's maturity. The voice is substantial, very powerful, and even throughout the registers. It is immense, stentorian and even larger than the voice of the "normal" dramatic soprano. Although the two voices are comparable and are sometimes hard to distinguish between, this voice has even greater stamina, endurance and volume than the former. The top register is very strong, clarion and bright. Successful hochdramatische are rare.

Mezzo-soprano Fächer

Koloratur-Mezzosopran

Soprano G to B.svg

Lyrischer Mezzosopran / Spielalt

Soprano G to B.svg

Dramatischer Mezzosopran

Soprano G to B.svg
  • English equivalent: dramatic mezzo-soprano
  • Range: From about the G below middle C (G3) to the B two octaves above middle C (B5)
  • Description: Dramatic mezzo-sopranos have ranges very similar to a dramatic soprano. The main difference is the endurance and ease in which the two voice-types sing – a mezzo will concentrate singing most of the time in her middle and low registers and will go up to notes like high B-flat only at the dramatic climax. Consequently, many dramatic mezzo-sopranos have success in singing some dramatic soprano roles that are written with a lower tessitura.
  • Roles:


Contralto Fächer

Dramatischer Alt

200pxl
  • English equivalent: dramatic contralto
  • Range: From about the F below middle C (F3) to the G or A two octaves above (G–A5)
  • Description: Stylistically similar to the dramatic mezzo, just lower. Sings usually around the break between the chest voice and middle voice. Many mezzos tried their luck in these roles, yet real altos fare better. A deep, penetrating low female voice. This is a very rare voice type with a darker, richer sound than that of a typical alto.

Tiefer Alt

Tenor Fächer

Spieltenor / Tenor buffo

Tenor C to B.svg
  • English equivalent: (lyric) comic tenor. It is quite possible for a young Spieltenor to eventually work into the lighter lyrischer Tenor category; the deciding factor will be the beauty of voice.
  • Range: From about low C (C3) to the B an octave above middle C (B4)
  • Roles:

Charaktertenor

Tenor B to C.svg
  • English equivalent: character tenor; must have good acting abilities.
  • Range: From about the B below low C (B2) to the C an octave above middle C (C5)

Lyrischer Tenor

Tenor C to C.svg

Jugendlicher Heldentenor

Tenor C to C.svg

Heldentenor

Tenor B to C.svg

Baritone Fächer

Bariton / Baryton-Martin

  • Italian: baritono leggero
  • English equivalent: light baritone
  • Range: From the low C (C3) to the B above middle C (B4)[13]
  • Description: The Baryton-Martin, named after Jean-Blaise Martin (sometimes referred to as Light Baritone)[14] lacks the lower G2–B2 range a heavier baritone is capable of, and has a lighter, almost tenor-like quality.

Lyrischer Bariton / Spielbariton

Baritone B to G.svg

Kavalierbariton

Baritone A to G Sharp.svg

Charakterbariton

Baritone A to G Sharp.svg
  • Italian: baritono verdiano
  • English equivalent: Verdi baritone
  • Range: From about the A below low C (A2) to the G above middle C (G4)
  • Description: A voice particularly effective with passages in its higher reaches. A high tessitura vis-a-vis the range extremes. A Verdi baritone refers to a voice capable of singing consistently and with ease in the highest part of the baritone range, sometimes extending up to the C above middle C (C5 or high C). The Verdi baritone will generally have a lot of squillo, or "ping"
  • Roles:

Heldenbariton

Bass G to F Sharp.svg

Lyrischer Bassbariton / Low lyric baritone

Bass G to F Sharp.svg
  • English equivalent: lyric bass-baritone
  • Range: From about the G below low C (G2) to the F above middle C (F4)
  • Description: The bass-baritone's required range can vary tremendously based on the role, with some less demanding than others. Some bass-baritones are baritones, while others are basses.

Dramatischer Bassbariton / Low dramatic baritone

Bass G to F Sharp.svg
  • English equivalent: dramatic bass-baritone
  • Range: From about the G below low C (G2) to the F above middle C (F4)

Bass Fächer

Basso cantante / Lyric bass-bariton / High lyric bass

Bass E to F.svg
  • English equivalent: lyric bass-baritone or singing bass
  • Range: From about the E below low C (E2) to the F above middle C (F4)
  • Basso cantante means 'singing bass'.[18]

Hoher Bass / Dramatic bass-baritone / High dramatic bass

Bass E to F.svg
  • English equivalent: dramatic bass-baritone
  • Range: From about the E below low C (E2) to the F above middle C (F4)

Jugendlicher Bass

Bass E to F.svg
  • English equivalent: young bass
  • Range: From about the E below low C (E2) to the F above middle C (F4)
  • Description: A young man (regardless of the age of the singer).

Spielbass / Bassbuffo / Lyric buffo

Bass E to F.svg

Schwerer Spielbass / Dramatic buffo

Bass C to F.svg

Lyrischer seriöser Bass

Bass C to F.svg
  • English equivalent: low bass. Italian: basso profondo.[20]
  • Range: From about the C two octaves below middle C (C2) to the F above middle C (F4)
  • Basso profondo is the lowest bass voice type. According to J. B. Steane in Voices, Singers, and Critics, the basso profondo voice "derives from a method of tone-production that eliminates the more Italian quick vibrato. In its place is a kind of tonal solidity, a wall-like front, which may nevertheless prove susceptible to the other kind of vibrato, the slow beat or dreaded wobble."
  • Roles:

Dramatischer seriöser Bass

Bass C to F.svg

References

  1. ^ "How to Determine Singing Range and Vocal Fach (Voice Type)". SingWise. Retrieved 2021-08-18.
  2. ^ Scott-Stoddart, Nina. "The Fach system of vocal classification". Halifax Opera Festival. Retrieved 2021-08-18.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  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. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Kloiber 2002, p. 901.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Kloiber 2002, p. 902.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Kloiber 2002, p. 903.
  8. ^ a b c d Kloiber 2002, p. 905.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kloiber 2002, p. 906.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Kloiber 2002, p. 907.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Kloiber 2002, p. 908.
  12. ^ McGinnis 2010, p. 257
  13. ^ John Warrack and Ewan West, The Oxford Dictionary of Opera, 2nd edition, 1992.ISBN 0-19-869164-5
  14. ^ Huizenga, Tom (14 December 2011). "Talk Like An Opera Geek: Breaking Down Baritones". Deceptive Cadence. NPR.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Kloiber 2002, p. 909.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Kloiber 2002, p. 910.
  17. ^ Facsimile of score of Lulu from Universal Edition
  18. ^ Bass Guide, BBC Wales
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Kloiber 2002, p. 911.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g Kloiber 2002, p. 912.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kloiber 2002, p. 913.

Bibliography

Media files used on this page

Soprano B to C.svg
Soprano range, B to C
Soprano G to B.svg
Soprano range, G to B
Bass G to F Sharp.svg
Bass range, G to F sharp
Soprano C to C.svg
Soprano range, C to C
Bass C to F.svg
Bass range, C to F
Soprano A to C.svg
Soprano range, A to C
Soprano F to C.svg
Soprano range, F to C
Baritone A to G Sharp.svg
Baritone range, A to G sharp
Bass E to F.svg
Bass range, E to F
Baritone B to G.svg
Baritone range, B to G
Tenor B to C.svg
Tenor range, B to C
Tenor C to B.svg
Tenor range, C to B
Tenor C to C.svg
Tenor range, C to C
Soprano F to A.svg
Soprano range, F to A
Soprano C to F.svg
Soprano range, C to F