Top Ten Greatest Female Opera Singers

The Top Ten

1 Maria Callas Maria Callas Maria Callas, Commendatore OMRI, was a Greek-American soprano, and one of the most renowned and influential opera singers of the 20th century. Many critics praised her bel canto technique, wide-ranging voice and dramatic interpretations.

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 ...more

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.

Callas enough said

V 89 Comments
2 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!

Her voice spelled greatest beauty with every sound! Truly unforgettable! Joan Sutherland performing with Luciano Pavarotti 30 years ago still warms every sense of me!

V 56 Comments
3 Tarja Turunen Tarja Turunen Tarja Soile Susanna Turunen-Cabuli (born August 17, 1977), generally known as Tarja Turunen or simply Tarja, is a Finnish singer-songwriter. She is a soprano and has a vocal range of three octaves. more.

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 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!

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.

Super Tarja

V 82 Comments
4 Renee 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

Fleming voice is not one of the most beautiful voices of all time. It is too strident in certain sections, too shrill in others, and lacks uniformity throughout. She should not be on this list!

Her voice awakens my heart to listen to opera!

V 19 Comments
5 Leontyne 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!

This great singer inspired me to become and study opera, before I became a composer. Her voice is one of the rare gifts to humanity. Very few real dramatic soprano's are born with the richness and range displayed in Ms. Price's voice, nor is there the dynamic richness and beauty of her voice. My first introduction to her came from records of her opera Aida, along with Porgy and Bess, when I was just 10 years old; with her ex-husband. There is only one singer today that I strongly see as having the level of interpretive phrasing and vocal quality of Leontyne Price... and that would be Renee Flaming, after that the other pale in vocal quality.

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 know MANY are not familiar with her talent, but as someone who has heard many of these Ladies in person, her raking on your list should be in your TOP 3. Her voice cannot be compared to any others on the list, her voice is truly one of a kind...Powerful, Melodious and Crystal Clear Passion.

V 19 Comments
6 Dame 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.

She has such depth of soul and breadth of vocal repertory. She sings from the heart.

Simply loved her voice. Dame Kiri te Kanawa came out of humble beginnings and fought through discrimination in New Zealand in the early days to win an opportunity for music education at the Royal Conservatory and achieved world wide musical fame for her talent and performance. Recently retired at 72, Dame Kiri te Kanawa has accomplished much recognition for her people and for New Zealand.

Timbre, diction, nuance, profondeur du sentiment sans affectation aucune. Dame Kiri te Kanawa est "l'enchanteresse" pour emprunter à Jean Starobinski son expression.

V 23 Comments
7 Kirsten 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

Pandora can't find her in it's search of artists. Now we know the idiots that run that technology don't deserve to handle great music.

There is a reason why she was called "The Voice of the Century"

V 6 Comments
8 Montserrat 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.

Her voice is one of the most beautiful things I've heard

V 40 Comments
9 Sarah Brightman Sarah Brightman

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.

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.


THE most beautiful voice in history! She has saved my life...

V 37 Comments
10 Jackie Evancho Jackie Evancho Jacqueline Marie "Jackie" Evancho is an American classical crossover singer who gained wide recognition at an early age and, since 2009, has issued an EP and five albums, including a platinum and gold album and three Billboard 200 top 10 debuts .

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.

Proof is so much better than bluster, so please, go watch Jackie sing “Attesa” on YT. Then come back and keep voting to make Jackie #1 on this list.

V 62 Comments

The Contenders

11 Carmen 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.

Ms. Monarcha is not only the BEST opera in the world she happens to be the most beautiful as well! Her stage presence is something to be reckoned with in a most spectacular experience!

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!

She just gets better and better!

V 40 Comments
12 Kathleen 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

Truly great!

V 5 Comments
13 Mirusia 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.

How it is possible not to top this list by Sumi Jo

V 140 Comments
14 Birgit 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!

She is in the top, and thouse of you who say she's not your're way to ypung or simply ignorant when it comes to Opera! Her Turandot and her Bruunhilde, Isolde, Salome or Elctra... She har something that all others lack - she was never a diva. She felt everything she sang. I'm so unhappy that mediocre singers like Sarah Brightman has more fame then Birgit just because Sarah had fame in the era when the internet and Musictelevision began... If Birgit was a living woman today, she would totally outpass everyone!

V 3 Comments
15 Marilyn Horne

Marilyn Horne is a mezzo-soprano opera singer with an amazing ability to sing beautiful coloratura passages. She makes her opera roles come alive with superb acting.

Unsurpassed as a mezzo coloratura! Rich, creamy voice with unique gorgeous lower notes. Renee Fleming is my favorite soprano although can't leave out Jessee Norman. A difficult task to pick one favorite. Would prefer picking one from all the voice categories which are many.


Just listen tobernsteins CARMEN

16 Jessye 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.

She is one of the reasons I started listening to opera! She is an amazing woman with an amazing gift. Not only can I listen to her sing, I love to listen to her speak. I've watched interviews with her. Her stories about life experiences and her wisdom are captivating. Love her!

Wonderful singer

V 5 Comments
17 Angela 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.

She is divine! Her magnificent voice, her spellbinding presence, her amazing acting skills and the great respect she has for the music she sings (by choosing productions that respect the music and the composer - I honestly think she is the only one nowadays that doesn't perform in modern productions! ), her ability to capture the public and to spread emotion - all these things make her the only diva in todays opera world..she is probably the last real diva.

Angela Gheorghiu is a magnificent, pure, pure talent. A marvelous voice and incredible woman! Love to see and listen her, so, so much.

Such a natural beautiful voice and sings with real meaning and she herself is stunning

V 33 Comments
18 Elina Garanca

Brilliant vocalist with personality to match. Always a pleasure to watch her perform.

In 2016, she turns 40. Perhaps the best living mezzo. Terrific!

Beautiful divine voice and a sparkling personality!

Love her voice and theatrical talent!

V 14 Comments
19 Anna Netrebko Anna Netrebko

I love the richness and silkiness of her voice. The ease with which she sings and the sincerity of her performance whether performing tragic, romantic or mischievous roles is always delightful. One day I might be lucky enough to see her perform live but in the meantime I depend on and enjoy what I can find on Google.

I just don't get why there is so mush hatred for Netrebko! She is no Callas or Sutherland, but she is probably one of the best sopranos of the modern era...Her voice is crystal clear, rich and warm, with a strong, unforced low register and a powerful top. I think her acting and vocal expression is divine. Her trademark vibrancy in her voice is an awesome highlight.

The reigning Diva of the Met for the past several seasons, Anna has a tonal beauty that truly helps her stand out as the soprano of our time. She's evolved in her career spanning from Bel Canto to Verismo.

She is the best of all times.

V 48 Comments
20 Renata 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.

Quite simply the most gorgeous voice of the 20th century.

V 19 Comments
PSearch List

Recommended Lists

Related Lists

Best Female Singers of All Time Best Female Singers of the 21st Century Best Female Pop Singers of Today Best Female Singers In Concert Most Desirable Female Singers in the World

List Stats

7,000 votes
172 listings
8 years, 331 days old

Top Remixes (14)

1. Kirsten Flagstad
2. Joan Sutherland
3. Leontyne Price
1. Joan Sutherland
2. Renee Fleming
3. Montserrat Caballé
1. Joan Sutherland
2. Sumi Jo
3. Amelita Galli-Curci

View All 14


Add Post

Error Reporting

See a factual error in these listings? Report it here.