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
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, 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.
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.
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2Beverly 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.
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3Maria 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.
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!
No one compares to her. She was the ultimate soprano of all times...
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4Montserrat Caball├ę
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.

5Birgit Nilsson

6Jackie Evancho
I am a devoted fan of Jackie Evancho, have seen her twice in concert, and will continue to attend her concerts whenever they are within striking distance; however, in all honesty I think it is too early to include her in such exalted company. Let's let her at least reach adulthood first. I hope and think she will eventually achieve this level.
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.
Many beautiful voices listed here, but Jackie's is the only one that brings tears of joy and delight when one marvels at the magnificence of her voice.
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7Leontyne Price
She could sing anything!
NOBODY, and I repeat, does it like Ms Price. NOBODY! Get it?

8Kirsten Flagstad
Probaly the best norwegian soprano of all time

9Renata 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.

10Kiri Te Kanawa
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.
Listen to her Butterfly!
The most beautiful voice in recording history.
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The Contenders

11Renee Fleming
If not at the top rung, she is close - and a near-perfect blend of voice, acting, and beauty.

12Jessye Norman
Strong and delicate voice

13Luisa Tetrazinni

14Elizabeth Shwarzkopf
The best lyric soprano. The way she give different lives to every word that she sings.

15Sumi 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.
The best among bests.

16Barbara Bonney

17Victoria 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!

18Yvonne Kenny

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

23Edita Gruberova

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.
For me the best soprano. gorgeous voice. Just like an Angel...
SIMPLE PERFECT HIGH NOTE HITTING SOPRANO I EVER HEARD, but SHE GIVES MY EARS THAT.
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25June Anderson

26Mirella Freni

27Charlotte Jaconelli
Very promising & young but professional voice.

28Nellie Melba

29Teresa Stich-Randall
One of the greatest - why are opera singers called 'item'?

30Maria 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.

31Kathleen Battle

32Yma Sumac

33Gundula 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.

34Sarah Joy Miller

35Barbara Fritilli

36Anna Moffo

37Meav Ni Mhaolchatha

38Virginia 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!

39Anita 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.

40Diana Damrau
Beautiful high notes and great energy onstage! Diana will certainly leave a legacy as far as coloratura is concerned.

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This list was created 4 years, 257 days ago and has been voted on over 500 times. This top ten list has been remixed 5 times.

Updated Wednesday, April 23, 2014


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