Top Ten Greatest Female Opera Singers

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The Top Ten

1
Joan Sutherland
Probably the greatest diva in the millenium. All other divas should strive for the perfection of her technique and evocative and moving interpretations. Luciano Pavarotti called her the voice of the century - Sherrill Milne said in one interview he felt pained to sing on cue as it seemed rude to interrupt such an equisite performance. Peers are the best judges and you have to go with them. Of course, this is all subjective but the respect of her peers - the truly knowledgeable in my judgement makes her the greatest of all time.
Dame Joan Sutherland is in my opinion the best soprano of all time: Perfect technique, pure and rich voice and great interpretation skills.
Voice of unmatched beauty and skill. In her later years, as with most, she had difficulty with her middle range. Yet in her prime, she had control that was unmatched by any other coloratura! Her vocal acrobatics in the Bell Song or The Mad Scene from Lucia the Lamamoor were pure and perfect and never equalled by any other soprano!
[Newest]She was not from this world!
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2Renee Fleming
Experiencing her art and voice live was a bucket list dream before I had ever heard the term or reached an age when I needed to. Twenty years on now, for me she is simply nonpareil.
She has turned me on to oprea, after listening to her sing
By far the most beautiful voice on the opera stage today. Her ability to express different emotions is unique! For me she stays number one. I listened to her way back in the 80's when she participated in the Unisa singers competition in South Africa. Even then the quality was unique and promising. I was fortunate to meet her again in 2009 when she visited South Africa.
[Newest]Renee has the most beautiful voice!

3Maria Callas
She created her own art, and some people hated it because it wasn't classically beautiful, but who cares it sounded way better and she is by far not only the most talented soprano of all time, but her veracity, her willingness to show facts, accuracy, and honesty in very aspect of her career is so amazing even on top of all her talent. She didn't care about beauty as much as she cared about creating her own honest style that to this day has changed the way sopranos sing, she was honest and cared solely about what she wanted to accomplish and not what everyone else thought if her. She broke through with unbelievable talent that was her own individual sounds that were out of the norm, but were so amazing. I hate opera singers apt just because I find orbiting, although they do hAve some of the most astonishingly and amazingly beautiful voices, it's just not my genre of choice. Without callas being the first soprano to breakout of the norm of society, and create her ow even more amazing style, it then allowed for soprano artists of today's generation to express their own voices in any way they want to, not ways by the book. A perfect example of a soprano voice in today's society is Christina Aguilera. She has the most amazing voice and she is a true soprano because of the notes she can hit, and if it weren't for Maria callas we wouldn't have seen such a diversity in music like we do today. Thanks Maria Callas, and happy 90th birthday.
It's Maria Callas, does anything else need to be said but, anyway easily the greatest female opera singer of all time. The love of her life wasn't another human but, opera music and when one listens to her singing you can instantaneously hear that love. She also, possessed a great ability to be able to sing the greatest love of her life and, in doing so provided the world with the greatest opera singer the world has ever seen. Marvellous Maria Callas, your legacy will live forever!
Decades after Callas's death and her legend lives on. Ask the person in the street to name a female opera singer and chances are the answer will be, "Maria Callas" - the same cannot be said for others on this list! Callas's interpretations may not always have been the most technically accurate, but her emotion, passion and soul shone through. And isn't that what art is all about? The ability to stir something inside you that cannot always be explained? It is rather like Monet's "smears" and "blobs". At face value they are not technically art, but when you look at the whole picture, it is beautiful... For me, Callas's vocal range was unsurpassed by others of her genre, which gave her the most amazing versatility. Plus she was a person who refused to conform to a mould, especially in a time when women tended to have less freedom than they enjoy now. Yes, she made mistakes, but Callas's honesty made her human and a beautiful person. And for all of these reasons, her legend lives on.
[Newest]Maria Callas should be at least No.2. She did not sing with a uniform timbre as the lady above her at this time does. She adapted her voice to the roles, not the other way around. She spoke herself about the practically infinite gradations of color one can get from sound. A hard worker, she was always in the process of perfecting her roles.
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4Montserrat Caballé
La Superba! Listen to her rendition of Puccini's 'O Mio Babbino Caro' and then tell yourself Sarah Brightman is a better "Opera" singer. This lady is in a league all her own. Number one all the way!
A depth and range of voice that is so effortless and only a stone heart could not be moved.
She is unsurpassed in her many roles and her recording of songs from her native land is quite superb.
Ms Caballe completely captures the soul of the momment in her voice and delivery. She also has such a radiant personality that sheer beauty shines through in her presence.
[Newest]Because someone said: "After me, only Caballé."

5Dame Kiri te Kanawa
Her voice is as smooth as silk! I get chills when I hear her sing!
I had the pleasure of meeting Dame Kanawa on a flight that I was a working
Crew member. She was ever so gracious & so humble when I acknowledged her
& mentioned how much I enjoyed hearing her on PBS' Great Performances. After the service was completed she took the time to come into the galley & personally thank us for our professional & personal service.
All though I think many "up-and-coming" women may eventually have better voices, I think all females in the opera world wish to be like her.
She has such depth of soul and breadth of vocal repertory. She sings from the heart.
[Newest]I have listened to kiri te kanawa.. Her voice is absolutely beautiful.. She seems to be able to slide effortlessly from an unbelievably low range for a soprano to her lovely high range... Her breathing, to me,... is perfectly timed, she's in my top Two.

6Leontyne Price
L am in shock to see Leontyne Price in the 22nd spot on your list considering some of the previous ones. It is very clear to me that the voters are not familiar with her work nor her struggles as an african- american in the world of opera and else where. The opportunities were not the same for all; nevertheless her talent could not be suppress.
I experienced her performance of Aida at the Met and at her retirement in the same role; it was absolutely breath taking. She was regal and so was her voice. Review your list!
Leontyne Price was my mother's favorite female opera singer in the '50s. Mom's favorite performance was Ms. Price in Ll Trovatore. Time magazine called her voice, "Rich, supple and shining. It was in its prime capable of effortlessly soaring from a smoky mezzo to the pure soprano gold of a perfectly spun high C. "
I've been attending live opera since 1947. Leontine Price is the best of any. No one can compare. Some may get there. Price was technically correct, emotionally exquisite and with a quality at each range that was beautiful and flowed flawlessly from one note to another. Listen!
[Newest]This woman has always had my heart and soul. She is the queen of opera and MADE the role of Aida in the 1950's. There is no one like her, and I will always bow.

7Carmen Monarcha
Buy the DVD/CD Carmen Monarcha. It has all kinds of great music on it - some well known opera arias and some standards and some by Brazilian composers. Carmen is a rare gift to music - a beautiful voice, great performing skills, great passion and a natural beauty as well.
Everyone should hear the DVD! The opera purists will no doubt scoff but everything this great artist does is from the heart and will often bring a tear to your eye. Beautiful in every way. O Mio Babbino Caro and Ave Maria will break your heart. A modern Callas in many ways such as her passion expression and acting skills but without the histrionics and unpredictable nature of Callas. A lovely girl with a lovely personality who deserves to be in the top ten.
Carmen Monarcha has a voice that makes you realise what your ears are for, the full package of range, power, tone, interpretation and passion.
When I first heard her sing, I fell off the chair-spellbound by that fantastic voice and stage craft. She can make time stand still, nothing else matters, and you tend to forget to breathe for fear of missing something. Totally captivating, unbelievably good. Carmen-the voice of a Goddess. WOW!
[Newest]No Carmen deserves to be higher than number 12! She does sing full opera - half of these contenders have never done so. Let's get things in perspective please. As great as they are they are NOT opera singers.

8Angela Gheorghiu
I am not a fan of opera, but after listening to Angela, who really sparked the emotions with her passion and voice, I could become a convert.
Angela Gheorghiu is a magnificent, pure, pure talent. A marvelous voice and incredible woman! Love to see and listen her, so, so much.
Angela pure beautiful voice not as well known as the others follow and listen you will be amazed. I would love to see her live.
[Newest]Doesn't sound forced like Maria Callas and Renee Fleming not to sure about Joan Sutherland need to hear her but Angela should be 2nd place. Just because one is famous does not mean your great.

Dyshpo


9Kirsten Flagstad
Had she lived today. Her voice would be more than a distant memory and poor quality recordings. We've never anything like it... Before or since..
One of the most glorious voices of all time
She is the best voice of all the time. Who does not know this is ignorant. For sure. Ask the experts.
[Newest]A marvel, an exponent of Wagner par excellence

10Mirusia Louwerse
Described as the "Angel of Australia", Mirusia is undoubtedly one of the greatest soprano opera singers of the 21st century. Her accolades speak for themselves:

Youngest winner in history of the Dame Joan Sutherland Opera Competition.

Has accompanied the world renowned violinist, Andre Rieu on a 6 year world tour.

ARIA Award winner

Lead soloist in Benjamin Britten's "War Requiem".

Apart from her crowning achievements, Mirusia is considered by many to be one of the most down-to-earth and respected celebrities. Her passion for music and helping underprivileged children has made Mirusia an ambassador for two significant foundations:

Australian Children's Music Foundation
Dutch Social Network Foundation

Mirusia's ongoing efforts have raised much needed funds for children in Australia and abroad. Australia is proud and honoured to have such an amazing individual in our music industry!
Mirusia has a beautiful voice, and a passion for her profession. She also appears to care deeply for her audience, and engages with us through her bright smile, and laughter, and occasional joke. She is constantly implementing new ways to be creative on the stage, and I love the fact that her career has expanded and is not just limited to working with Andre. She is also a superb world citizen and donates her time, and effort to various causes which help people and young children. Keep up the great work Mirusia.
Mirusia is truly our Angel of Australia. She is a delight to hear her sing and her ongoing efforts in helping underprivileged children is a testimony to her passion for music and in raising much needed funds for children. She is a beautiful person with a wonderful heart and she deserves all the recognition that she can get. Australia is very proud for have and to know such a wonderful person in Mirusia.
[Newest]She is currently the best ever.
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The Contenders

11Jackie Evancho
I've been told that there are other prodigies in the world, that prodigy is not as rare as I think, and that Miss Evancho is quite good but not a performer that is nothing less than a treasure for entire world. Well, with the advent of YouTube and streaming music services, it's actually possible to listen to the "others," and that's what they all are -- also-rans. A voice like this can't come along more often that once in a generation, perhaps less often, and it's therefore my belief that that she's the standard by which all others will be judged within a few years. That's why she already should be near the top of this list: she hasn't achieved as much as the others, but the rating here is "the best," not the most enduring or experienced.
This list has the top 11 greatest female opera singers PLUS Jackie Evancho. This is very high praise indeed for a thirteen year old singer. Should you ever doubt her name belongs on this list, listen to her CDs, or go to YouTube and listen. Jackie just naturally reaches her audience the way Opera stars WISH they could reach theirs. These ladies have all worked very very hard over their careers to achieve their positions in Opera, and they certainly deserve their accolades. However, Jackie is such a colossal natural talent, that many believe she deserves a place on this list.

This will be an interesting list in another 10 years.
If there is a voice that provokes disbelief, this is it. When you go to an opera, you expect operatic voices. Here is a child who has been accused of lip synching, (the ultimate compliment) and of being an angel. That her voice can stand alone as one of the best should be proof enough, seeing it's source does make one wonder.
[Newest]Wow! She's the best!
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12Tarja Turunen
She is the best singer this world ever gave birth to!
She's not just a good opera singer... She also has a unique voice and the feelings she conveys while singing are simply stunning and unbeatable.

Only Tarja could make me cry!
Her voice is just stunning. When she sings Ave Maria I get shivers!
She is both mesmerizing and very talented. Despite all of her talent and voice, she is a really sweet person. I've met her in person, got an autopgraph and a picture with her, and all I can say is, that she is one of the sweetest people I've meet. Beauty, voice, talent together with kindess - perfection!
She is just... unique.
Tarja is Tarja, and no one can beat that.
I know her technique is not perfect, but who has a perfect technique?
Besides, her voice is just gorgeous, and there is no technique that can teach that to anyone.
[Newest]She has such a fantastic range covering more than genre
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13Jessye Norman
I heard her sing in a cathedral in Philadelphia accompanied by strings and a jazz orchestra. I'll never forget it. Her voice was gorgeous and full, her emotional expression was superb. She sang arias, jazz and gospel that night. I'm unsophisocated in understanding of operatic music, but she was moving in voice, physical presence and expression. She walked through the cathedral as she sang a set of gospel hymns. She moved like an Egyptian Queen in long, heavy gowns. It brings tears to my eyes to remember it. Wonderful!
Such a rich voice that defies conventional classification. I love sopranos. so many on these list are great to sublime. For me though, Jessye is in a class on her own. Watching her during a performance is like being in the presence of a divine being whose voice penetrates deep into one's soul.
Norman deserve the spot under Joan Sutherland. I can't believe why Tarja Turunen is even here. She's an average voice and not an opera singer. Putting Turunen right after Sutherland is an insult to opera. It should be:

1. Sutherland
2. Norman
3. Callas
[Newest]Beautiful voice. Beautiful Person. Beautiful Opera Diva!

14Renata Tebaldi
Callas was the reason I hated female opera singers - that awful screeching!
Tebaldi's "Oh mio babbino caro" turned me on to female voices.
I cannot believe that Renata Tebaldi is considered #20 on here. She is #1 on my list. I appreciate Callas but cannot believe she is considered the top #1 singer on this list. Her range and pitch is far more superior and I find her voice to me extremely pure and powerful.
Viewing this singer on YouTube is a lesson in bel canto. Watching her facial position and breath are textbook examples for anyone studying classical operatic technique. It is agreed that Renata Tebaldi, Leontyne Price and Rosa Ponselle had the mopst perfectly balanced voices of the twentieth century. They cannot be put on lists. They are in a class all their own.
[Newest]Listen to 'Nimbus Records' and read the opinions od the critics.

15Sarah Brightman
I just want to say that I voted Sarah cause I know no one in particular who is an opera singer. Sarah might be trained to reach the soprano notes, and her voice probably has the operatic touch, but she belongs to the world of theater, not opera. She is fantastic and all, but as an opera singer? I'm not so sure. Her voice is angelic, I know, that is why I don't think she belongs in the opera class. She's more of a theatrical soprano that has a more developed operatic voice of Christine that most, but that voice doesn't fit in to be availed in operatic ways. No hate... I love Sarah, loved her as Christine, loved her as a stage actress, just not an opera singer.
OMG! I AM JUST READING COMMENTS ABOUT TARJA TURUNEN -SO CALLED SINGING- AND I CANT BELIVE WHAT I SEE! ARE YOU PEOPLE DEAF OR WHAT? TARJAS INTERPRETATION OF AVE MARIA IS ONE OF THE WORST EVER! THE WOMAN IS ROUGH AS A BULLDOG! THATS WHY SHE DID ANOTHER VERSION, WITH "FLAT" SINGING, BECAUSE SHE CAN NEVER-EVER SING THE ORIGINAL ONE WITH PROPER TECHNICS, AND WICH IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT-WITH PROPER FEELINGS THAT SARAH BRIGHTMAN (OR MARIA CALLAS) HAS! PLEASE, LISTEN TO SOME REAL OPERA, BEFORE YOU JUMP ON SUCH A TERRIBLE INTERPRETATIONS!
Sorry to burst all your bubbles, but Sarah Brightman is not an opera singer. She's a crossover singer. She doesn't sing with a true opera technique, and how many of her songs that you hear are actually from operas as opposed to being just opera-sounding pop tunes? None of you people actually know what opera singers sound like if you think Sarah Brightman is the best opera singer.
[Newest]A passionate and beautiful voice
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16Kathleen Battle
She has such a beautiful light lyric coloratura soprano voice. I love it, but she is a terrible diva
Yeah, really a sweet lovely sound though a very small voice. But it is clear as a bell. She is a stunning woman. Too bad being too much of a diva. But there are other divas who are worse than her and it never hurt their careers. In fact, one of the top contenders for this title happens to be epitomy of a diva.
Lovely voice that I was only once lucky to hear

17Birgit Nilsson
One of the greatest operatic voices who has ever lived. Unsurpassed in Wagner operas.
Who have done Turandot or Brunhilde better?
I totally agree, Birgit Nilsson!

18Marilyn Horne

19Sumi Jo
Only because she's an Asian, so many people don't appreciate her amazing vocal! She totally deserves to be at least top 8
Magical! Fantastic in Mozart's Magic Flute!
Her voice is like a crystal!
[Newest]Pure and delicate she is a crystal voice that amazes us all!

20Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
A voice that takes you further than you can possibly imagine.
A voice of finesse, sophistication and technique

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This list was created 6 years, 62 days ago and has been voted on over 5,000 times. This top ten list contains 154 items, has been remixed 13 times and has been blogged about 2 times.

Updated Wednesday, May 27, 2015


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