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A bass-baritone is a high-lying bass or low-lying "classical" baritone voice type which shares certain qualities with the true baritone voice. The term arose in the late 19th century to describe the particular type of voice required to sing three Wagnerian roles: the Dutchman in Der fliegende Holländer, Wotan/Der Wanderer in the Ring Cycle and Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Wagner labelled these roles as Hoher Bass ("high bass")—see fach for more details.[1]

The bass-baritone voice is distinguished by two attributes. First, it must be capable of singing comfortably in a baritonal tessitura. Secondly, however, it needs to have the ripely resonant lower range typically associated with the bass voice. For example, the role of Wotan in Die Walküre covers the range from F2 (F at the bottom of the bass clef) to F#4 (F# above middle C), but only infrequently descends beyond C3 (the C below middle C). Bass-baritones are typically divided into two separate categories: lyric bass-baritone and dramatic bass-baritone.[2]

Bass-baritones should not be confused with their vocal cousin—the so-called Verdi baritone. This type of Italianate baritone voice has a brighter tone colour and sings at a slightly higher tessitura than that possessed by the bass-baritone. In addition to the operas of Giuseppe Verdi, its natural home is to be found in operatic music composed after about 1830 by the likes of Donizetti, Ponchielli, Massenet, Puccini and the verismo composers.

The term bass-baritone is roughly synonymous with the Italian vocal classification basso cantante; for example, in the Verdian repertoire, Philip II in Don Carlos is often taken by a bass-baritone, while Ferrando in Il Trovatore is sung by a true bass—though the two roles' ranges are very similar. In Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande the lower baritone role of Golaud is a bass-baritone, sitting between Pelleas (high baritone) and Arkel (bass).[citation needed] (See under fach for more information.) Much of the oratorio repertoire, from Handel's Messiah to Mendelssohn's Elijah, is best suited to a bass-baritone with the ability to combine a rich, dark tone with a smooth, high-lying cantabile line.[citation needed] Many of the classical Mozart baritone roles such as Don Giovanni, Figaro and Gugliemo—composed before the term "baritone" gained currency—are typically played nowadays by a bass-baritone.[3]

Gilbert and Sullivan's Savoy operas usually featured a comic bass-baritone character, created to make use of D'Oyly Carte company member Richard Temple.

In short: the bass-baritone is a voice that has the resonant low notes of the typical bass allied with the ability to sing in a baritonal tessitura. Colloquially, it refers to a voice with a range and tone somewhere between a bass and a baritone.

The bass-baritone's required range can vary tremendously based on the role, with some less demanding than others. Many bass-baritones have ventured into the baritone repertoire, including (among others) Leopold Demuth, George Baklanov, Rudolf Bockelmann, George London, James Morris and Bryn Terfel.

Repertoire[edit]

The following operatic parts are performed by bass-baritones but more often by high basses:

Core bass-baritone operatic parts:

Bass-baritone parts in Gilbert and Sullivan works:

Other bass-baritone parts:

Prominent operatic bass-baritones[edit]

Other prominent bass-baritones[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Stark, James (2003). Bel Canto: A History of Vocal Pedagogy. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-8614-3. 
  2. ^ McKinney, James (1994). The Diagnosis and Correction of Vocal Faults. Genovex Music Group. ISBN 978-1-56593-940-0. 
  3. ^ Bryn Terfel Opera Repertoire. Harlequin Agency Limited. 2008-06-18. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 

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277 news items

 
Taranaki Daily News
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 10:01:22 -0700

The internationally renowned bass baritone opera singer is touring with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, but has stopped in New Plymouth for a performance with the Ars Nova Choir this weekend. He will perform six Bible songs and hymns with young ...

Lewiston Sun Journal

Lewiston Sun Journal
Mon, 01 Sep 2014 21:10:52 -0700

Barbershop is a musical style sung without accompaniment by bass, baritone, lead and tenor voices. In January, the chorus will begin rehearsals for its annual road show, which is performed during July at several local concert venues that have included ...

Hyde Park Herald

Hyde Park Herald
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 21:15:28 -0700

There was a sturdy Figaro in bass-baritone John Relyea. His deep rumbling voice projected easily and his characterization was nicely conceived, conveying craftiness and confusion equally well. His posturing when he believes the Count is after his ...
 
WRTI
Fri, 22 Aug 2014 09:18:16 -0700

... and, in the vividly menacing title role, the "seductively malevolent" bass-baritone Ildar Abdrazakov, a "fullbodied bass-baritone" renowned for his "wonderfully evil portrayals" (The New York Times). Nicola Luisotti conducts. Saturday, August 30, 1 ...

TheatrePeople

TheatrePeople
Mon, 01 Sep 2014 06:43:57 -0700

Operatic bass-baritone Terfel made his debut with Welsh National Opera in 1990, singing Guglielmo in Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte. Since then he has made the uncommon crossover from opera star to international concert performer and become one of the ...

Plymouth Herald

Plymouth Herald
Sun, 31 Aug 2014 09:30:00 -0700

Pete, a bass-baritone from Tavistock, is a principal singer for the Plymouth Gilbert and Sullivan Fellowship (PGSF), who were delighted to be invited to take their production of The Yeomen of the Guard to perform as part of the competition. The singer ...
 
The News-Press
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:22:30 -0700

“The Mikado” Stage director and bass baritone Louis Dall'Ava has performed 24 principal Gilbert & Sullivan roles in his career, including 17 with the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players. He'll direct and likely perform in this fully staged English ...
 
Oneonta Daily Star
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 03:04:29 -0700

Acclaimed bass-baritone Eric Owens will return as Artist in Residence, performing his role debut as Macbeth. As Artist in Residence, Owens will not only perform, but will work closely with members of the company's Young Artists Program, the renowned ...
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