10 Greatest Sopranos of All Time

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In your opinion, who do you think are the ten greatest soprano's of all time? Don't agree with the list? Vote for an existing item you think should be ranked higher or if you are a logged in, add a new item for others to vote on or create your own version of this list.

The Top Ten

1
Joan Sutherland
Joan Sutherland, or La Stupenda as she was called, has the most spectacular voice of all time. Even Pavarotti said she was the voice of the Century. If she had Callas' acting abilities, she would be greater than Callas.
Joan Sutherland's assets include:
1. Huge voice.
2. Breathtakingly beautiful voice when in her prime.
3. Arguably THE perfect trill up to high C.
4. Arguably the best scales and runs.
5. Arguably the best staccato.
6. Definitely the best high notes from high A to high E.
Absolutely, the greatest SINGER of all times... Not just soprano... GREATEST SINGER EVER.
She had one of the most beautiful voice I've ever heard. And I've heard them all. Her voice is HUGE, and she can do anything with it. Her trills rival a flute and you can hear two actual notes spinning very fast. ALL aspects of the art of the coloratura are handled with utter ease and textbook. She has zero rivals as a dramatic coloratura. Her legendary "wall of sound" just surrounds you even in the Hollywood Bowl. She can sing Wagner and Bellini. And when it comes to those notes from C6-E6(high C-high E natural), no one has such brilliance, beauty and gigantic in volume. We will never see the likes of La Stupenda again!
I love Callas but next to Sutherland, even Callas has to take second place.
You MUST hear Sutherland LIVE to hear the real thing. Her voice is that spectacular and HUGE.
Joan Sutherland IS the Absolute First Lady of opera... Prima Donna Assoluta. Honestly, she has the most brilliant voice and breath taking technique of all the great divas in this list.
Even though she may not be the best actress, her phenomenal voice more than make up for it.
She is the Empress of Opera, in my opinion. Thank you.
[Newest]Overall, incomparable. Her voice just had a quality that made all others seem lacking. As close to perfect as there has ever been.

2Jackie Evancho
Ok, here is my opinion.
I am not an expert in music or singing, I only know what I feel.
I listen to many female artists from opera to pop.
Jackie's voice has something extra, something that sets it apart from others, regardless of the training and technical perfection reached.
In my opinion, Jackie Evancho has the greatest soprano voice today.
Wikipedia lists three child prodigies of voice: Beverly Sills, Julie Andrews, and Jackie Evancho. Jackie is the youngest person in history to go Platinum. Her career has just begun.
Being a great soprano does not equate being a great opera singer. That's a highly technical specialty. It's a vocal range, and this young lady covers it completely, with a timbre and vibrato (that varies with the piece she's singing) that is more pleasing to my ears than any other singer that I've ever experienced.

3Beverly Sills
Truly a great soprano & as a person. She had a way of singing to your soul in a genuine, sincere way. She portrayed her characters honestly, making them come to life. The ease with which she sang difficult passages was amazing. She could bring even the uneducated opera goer to love opera.
Most unqualified critics never heard Sills early in her career. What a pity! If you readers can, please find the earliest recording of her Baby Doe. Her matchles recording of Julius Caesar also puts her up there in the top five. What a pity she was shunned by the Met for far too long.

111111
I am surprised that many do not recognize Beverly for the magnificent talent she possessed. The things this woman could do with a single scale. Truly a pioneer.

4Montserrat Caballé
Caballe's voice is angelic. Her rendition of O Mio Babino Caro is absolutely flawless and is the best ever recorded - you would have to be a stone not to be moved by it! Other great arias include Ave Maria (Verdi) & Hijo de la Luna. There is not enough words to describe how exquisite her voice really is.

5Maria Callas
She possessed an unrivaled ability to breath life into the music. Her extraordinary sense of timing, the nuanced treatment of each phrase, and her impassioned delivery find no equal. When you lay aside the traditional criticism and think about what matters most in music, Callas stands alone.
The reason I think maria callas is one of the greatest-if not the greatest-singers is that every time I listen to one her resital I feel so many emotions that I makes me think she cast a spell on me. I know that there might be a lot of good artists but its something about her-about her voice- that makes her special. With her voice she is able to make you understand or even feel some things and I strogly believe that that's the real purpose of every kind of art. To understand and To feel!
I was sitting at Starbucks having a afternoon coffee, listening to Maria Callas, namely La Sonnambula and La Mamma Morta... At one point, I closed my eyes, and nothing else mattered... Her emotional languish along with her superb vocals, transcended me into another place and time... I became overcome with emotion. No one can ever come close to Callas and her artistic renditions of the great classics... BRAVA!
[Newest]Shame on you. Maria Callas is the greatest soprano ever.

6Birgit Nilsson

7Leontyne Price
She could sing anything!
NOBODY, and I repeat, does it like Ms Price. NOBODY! Get it?

8Renata Tebaldi
The most ravishingly beautiful voice ever. Perfect legato, perfect blending of registers and full bodied. Strong lower register, rich middle and dramatic, full top. Also possessed the beautiful pianissimo high notes in her early career. Although the high C became strained in her later career, she reworked her voice into a more dramatic one, with a very strong, mezzo sounding lower register, and Wagnerian weight. If only she had sang more Wagner and continued her career in the 70s as a mezzo (the Met offered her the chance but she declined). Still, the single most beautiful voice I have ever heard.
My fave. What a rich tone!

9Kirsten Flagstad
Probaly the best norwegian soprano of all time
The greatest voice of the 20th century.

10Kiri Te Kanawa
Listen to her Butterfly!
I think in terms of vibrato and terms of training she had the best voice. And she also had superb acting skills, but she lacked variety in repertoire and her voice got lighter as she got elder and more frail. But in her hayday amazing.
The most beautiful voice in recording history.
[Newest]Hooked on kiri and not just because she is a kiwi but because she is just that good to feel!

The Contenders

11Jessye Norman
Strong and delicate voice

12Renee Fleming
Renee fleming beats everyone on this list. You'd have to be deaf not to agree. It's insane she isn't on the top list. By the way, Beverly Sills is recorded singing higher than Joan Sutherland. Sills goes all the way up to F5.
I agree, Fleming is like audible silk. Such control, such a beautiful sound. She sings with ease.
If not at the top rung, she is close - and a near-perfect blend of voice, acting, and beauty.

13Barbara Bonney

14Elizabeth Shwarzkopf
The best lyric soprano. The way she give different lives to every word that she sings.
Number One, hands down!
Her countess almaviva is so mesmerizing and so is her marschallin

15Victoria de Los Angeles
WHAT? I can't believe this! Ms De Los Angeles should be at least in 4 place. Who is voting here? I guess young people, who vote famous names and not really good singers...
The best ever with a warm and powerful voice - far far superior to the unpleasant metallic and tart sound of Callas.
The best ever again!

16Yvonne Kenny

17Luisa Tetrazinni

18Sumi Jo
Her renditions of the bel canto repertoire are really amazing. Her coloratura is very precised and clear. Her rendition of offenbach and lakme are really superb putting her own emotions and colors to every phrase she sings. She is probably one of the best sopranos today.
Her voice is rare and unique among other opera singers who I know.
The best among bests.

19Lily Pons

20Lucia Popp
If the main thing is beauty of sound and purity of voice, this is THE goddess of singing... She possessed the most beautiful voice ever.
Clearest and cleanest voice of them all!
She's the best in my opinion..

21Anna Netrebko

22Angela Gheorghiu
Considered best contemporary voice in the world

23Mirella Freni

24Sarah Brightman
I've heard them all. Sarah leaves them all for dead. She has sold more records than any soprano ever. Sarah has supreme presence and wonderful acting abilities.
SIMPLE PERFECT HIGH NOTE HITTING SOPRANO I EVER HEARD, but SHE GIVES MY EARS THAT.
For me the best soprano. gorgeous voice. Just like an Angel...
[Newest]Very high note hitting was the forte of Erna Sack.

25Nellie Melba

26June Anderson

27Anna Moffo

28Edita Gruberova
The voice. Sheer beauty.

29Charlotte Jaconelli
Very promising & young but professional voice.

30Teresa Stich-Randall
One of the greatest - why are opera singers called 'item'?

31Maria Stader
This tiny Swiss soprano was best known for her delicacy of voice well suited to Mozart. Ms. Stader made several operatic appearances, most notably as the Queen of the Night in a Covent Garden staging of Mozart's "Magic Flute, " a work she also recorded with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Ernst Haefliger. Mozart's "Exsultate, Jubilate" was a particular specialty, and she performed it frequently in New York, with the New York Philharmonic under the baton of George Szell. Erformances of Mozart concert arias, and her solos in the composer's Masses were also highly regarded. In addition to Mozart, Ms. Stader's repertoire included works by Mahler, Alessandro Scarlatti, Gluck, Bruckner and Beethoven's Fidelio, and Christ on the Mount of Olives.

32Kathleen Battle
One of the most beautiful voice qualities of all time.

33Yma Sumac

34Sissel Kyrkjebø
I have never heard anyone like her, she sings out of her heart and soul and excels at any type of music she chooses. Wish we could see more of her in the United States

35Gundula Janowitz
Not saying she is the best, but she deserves to be on the list. When people think of sopranoes, she is one of the first who comes to mind. You will have all heard her. She is the one who sings in the film The Shawshank Redemption - with Edith Mathis.

36Sarah Joy Miller

37Barbara Fritilli

38Meav Ni Mhaolchatha

39Natalie Dessay
Far the best in the world!

40Erna Sack
The other commentees have probably never heard of her.

41Edda Moser

42Hibla Gerzmava

43Pretty Yende

44Miliza Korjus
How can you forget about her - the greatest ever

45Bidu Sayão

46Virginia Zeani
Romanian born soprano who had an international career and who holds the record for the most performances of Violetta from Verdi's La Traviata (over 648). She made her La Scala debut as Cleopatra in Handel's Giulio Cesare and later went on to perform Blanche from Poulnec's Dialogues of the Carmelites at the same theatre (she was the personal selection of the composer). She started her career with the works of Bellini, Donizetti, and others of the bel canto repetoire and concluded with the heavier works of Puccini, Verdi, etc., having lost none of the vocal bloom and beauty that were her trademarks.
I heard Virginia Zeani in the early 1960s in the years when I also heard Callas, Sutherland, Regine Crespin and Birgit Nilsson. As she made few commercial recordings she was less famous internationally but she was unquestionably their equal. She had a glorious voice, of a dark timbre, tinged with sadness. Her performances were thrilling, for she sang with far more passionate commitment than other singers. She was unequalled as Violetta and her vibrant yet soft top As in "Addio del passato" were the most beautiful sounds I ever heard.
Virginia Zeani was La prima DONNA ASSOLUTA of the 50s 60s and 70s... Callas and Tebaldi had the promotion, Virginia had THE VOICE!

47Diana Damrau
Beautiful high notes and great energy onstage! Diana will certainly leave a legacy as far as coloratura is concerned.

48Anita Cerquetti
Although she had a relatively short career of about 10 years, she was a sensational lirico spinto who shook the opera scene profoundly. Renowned for her Norma, she is the one who replaced Callas during the infamous "Rome walkout" when Callas left a performance being atte3nded by the Italian Prime Minister. Like many other greats (Zeani, Olivero, Gencer, etc., ) she made few commercial studio recordings (one aria disc and one complete opera) but left a legacy of live recordings which shine light on her great artistry.

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This list was created 5 years, 132 days ago and has been voted on over 600 times. This top ten list has been remixed 5 times.

Updated Friday, December 19, 2014


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