Top Ten Greatest Female Opera Singers

The Top Ten
1 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

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.

Maria Callas was THE greatest opera singer...not just of the 20th century, but of all time. Maria had an amazing voice that could sing in so many colors, and she could reach every role, from bel canto to verismo. Aside from her flawless coloratura and unsurpassed vocal range, she put all her heart, all her passion, all her SOUL to every can hear it in her singing. Maria was unbeatable in so many roles...Tosca, Norma, Violetta...her voice had a beautiful color, she could articulate every note and master even the most vocally difficult passages in opera...She was incredibly talented and versatile, in my opinion nobody else in history was as good as her. 20th century legends like Sutherland, Price and Moffo are the closest to Callas and other sopranos like Netrebko and Damrau may be the best in the modern era, but no one comes close to her. She was "La Divina".

Because she is THE opera singer, the absolute icon. Not my personal favorite in terms of technique or particularity of the voice, she had incontestable acting abilities, a great presence and, most important of all, the intelligence which made her become the all-time symbol of opera singing. Unlike those two names that can be found before her in the top, which I won't even bother to type, Callas loved opera music, AND was able of singing it. A lady with a grand personality, a grand story and a grand life.

2 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.

She is too good to be real ;) She is the best singer, in my opinion... She can sing Classical songs and Metal :D Her high and slow notes are amazing and it's just unbelievable to hear her singing, a true angel and siren! She's great on stage, she smiles and interacts with the public, and she sounds even better in live. She has a great style, she is the sweetest person ever and she is absolutly GORGEOUS! Her beauty is unique, she's not just the best singers but she is also the most beautiful person inside and outside in the world.. One word to describe her : Perfect.

Tarja brings a lot of inspiration to everyone, there are always people who may not like her, but they can't deny how beautiful or influencing her voice is. She's without a doubt, made an amazing name for herself and deserves to be rewarded for reaching so far in life.

Tarja is absolutely the winner! She's such a gifted person! The music she composes, her every song has its own soul, a huge dose of emotions. It touches me so much and I know it touches many people as well. She definitely has a gift and I'm so proud of being her fan. Forever!

Tarja is the absolute best singer in the world :). She can sing everything, and her voice is what I only can imagine angels sound like :). She is not only the best singer in my opinion, but she is also the sweetest person on the world. She is amazing on stage, you can really feel that she loves her fans, and she always smiles and interact with the public. She is literally a star, that we are lucky to have here in the world :). Tarja has it all, beauty, talent, and a heart of gold. Tarja is PERFECT!

3 Joan Sutherland Joan Sutherland (November 7, 1926 - October 10, 2010) was an Australian operatic dramatic coloratura soprano, known for her contribution to the renaissance of the bel canto repertoire from the late 1950s to the 1980s. She was the first Australian to win a Grammy Award in 1962.

Nobody on this list can compare vocally to Joan Sutherland. Maria Callas was the greatest actress ever in opera, but there's more to opera than just acting. Vocally she was difficult to listen to when she was singing in her upper register, lots of shrill tones and a terrible wobble that I found very distracting. Renee Fleming has a beautiful voice but her strong suit is slow, sustained singing. Her runs are often messy and her trill is not consistent. And in my opinion Leontyne Price had a more beautiful voice. Joan could sing anything, whether it was intricate bel canto or something more dramatic. There will never be another female singer of her caliber.

Joan is the greatest opera singer of all time. What I don't get is why Tarja Turunen is on this list. I listen to Tarja and she sounds like a pop singer. In no way is she an opera singer.
If TheTopTens allow a pop singer to be on an all time greatest female opera singer poll, then, Celine fans, Beyonce fans will vote here. And those pop singers have millions of views.
Opera singers should have their own polls. There is already polls for pop singers.
If TheTopTens is watching, can you remove Tarja Turunen from this opera singer poll? I could not find one legitimate opera aria sung by Tarja Turunen, which make her not an opera singer.

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.

I have never heard a greater voice live in the theatre. I saw her 63 times in operas and recitals and was simply over awed at the sheer beauty and power of her high notes and truly amazing - beyond words - breath control. She set the benchmark for all other coloraturas to esteem to. And, what a gracious lady taboot. No attitudes, Joan Sutherland just delivered the best. I knew, once she retired I would never hear a voice that great again. And, I was absolutely right there.

4 Renee Fleming

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.

Surely number one of the current era. Hearing her first on the Saturday radio opera without knowing her name it was clear that here was the new best of our time. In the past I loved Tebaldi. And Milanof more than Callas but how lucky we were to have all three!

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!

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.

5 Marta Fuchs
6 Montserrat Caballé

She is unbelieveably musically competent, to even the smallest details. Her voice is mighty but tenuous, only short in higher range. With great sense for melody and wonderful sensibility, she the No1 in slow and emotional arias, and those are those most moving. For me she deserves the 5th place or so.

I to hear Montserrat Caballe sing for many years. Luckily for me I attended the Met very often when she was in her prime. She is my answer in security questions that ask for favorite singer, which, of course no one else could ever imagine.

I love her Barcelona piece. I enjoyed that so much that it inspired me to listen to several of her other operas. Because of my adoration of freddie mercury, I have discovered this womans beautiful voice.

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.

7 Jackie Evancho Jacqueline Marie "Jackie" Evancho is an American classical crossover singer who gained wide recognition at an early age. Since 2009, she has issued an EP and eight albums, including a platinum and gold album, and three Billboard 200 top 10 debuts. Evancho's latest album 'The Debut', was her eighth consecutive more.

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.

This child's voice is a contrived instrument that will show it's true nature as she grows older. I've heard hundreds of young girls' and young women's voices that are much, much better. Voices that are not pushed beyond their capabilities or darkened to display a much older sound. She is not nor should she be listed in the same category as Kirsten Flagstad or Joan Sutherland. Evancho's voice, if it were trained properly (at the correct age to begin such training) may have revealed a good voice capable of an operatic career when she entered her early twenties, but at her age nothing good will come of it. She will wind up like Charlotte Church, who almost ruined her voice and now is performing pop music. Get this child off this list! She doesn't belong here with the true greats of opera!

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.

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.

8 Martha Mödl
9 Sarah Brightman Sarah Brightman is an English classical crossover soprano, actress, musician, songwriter, conductor, and dancer.

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.

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.

Sarah, of course... The Queen of performance. And one more thing... People, don't lose your nerves about voting (previous comments) because we all know that they are based on multiple voting, not on quality of the artist! I mean get real... Who can ever beat Sarah Brightman (or Maria Callas etc. )? No way...

Sarah Brightman transends opera and its limitations. She is without question, the most versatile, the most talented, and the most successful cross over female singer ever. None of the others, while very successful in opera, have this versatility. If I could only own one album, it would be the Sarah Brightman Andrew Lloyd Webber album.

10 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 might not have the most powerful voice of some of the great voices on the list but her artistry, stage presence and effortless passages just melt my heart like no other voice. I love a few of the greats but always return to kiri to compare their renditions with kiris that I just love. I very rarely change my view but there are a few singers like kathleen battle, joan sutherland, callas, cabelle whom challenge her renditions of some songs

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.

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.

The Contenders
11 Ilse Hübener
12 Leontyne Price

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.

My mother was the nurse for the Met in NYC. I spent many, many hours there as a child and Leontyne Price was my very first crush. I considered her a goddess. The day after I turned 5 years old was a day I'll never forget. That was the day the Goddess gave me a kiss. The very next day I came down with the mumps, and the entire Met, all the singers and the staff, wound up having to be inoculated. That was August 26th, 1961. Just a week or two later was when she lost her voice while singing as Minnie in "Fanciulla". I almost cost to Goddess her golden voice!

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 a real opera singer; not just someone who sang in a soprano voice. She was the real deal! One of the greatest exponents of the operas of Verdi, she had a beautiful deep rich voice, which she used with intelligence and feeling. You have to go back to Renata Tebaldi, Claudia Muzio, Rlizabeth Rethberg and Rosa Ponselle to find her equal. The only singers in the list above her as of date (7/8/2014) that are real contenders to the crown are Joan Sutherland and Monserrat Caballe (I suppose I should include Maria Callas, but she lacks beauty of voice)

13 Rotraud Hansmann
14 Elisabeth Schwarzkopf

The greatest Mozart's singer ever (and the greatest Richard Strauss too).
Perfect pitch, intonation and accent. The most elegant voice ever, and a very talented stage performer too.

A voice that takes you further than you can possibly imagine.

Beautiful face, beautiful voice, there will never be another ES

15 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.

The voice from Mirusia Louwerse is outstanding and she really have come into her own. Since she is singing with Andre Rieu and his Johan Strauss Orchestra she has blossemed. To listen at her voice she sings with great feeling and passion what touched your heart and brings tears to peoples eyes. Mirusia uses that great gift of her voice do good for others and seems so unchanged as a person despite all her success. It's my hope she'll have a long career as Dame Joan Sutherland had.

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.

16 Kirsten Flagstad

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.

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..

She is the best voice of all the time. Who does not know this is ignorant. For sure. Ask the experts.

Ms Flagstad is my all time favorite female operatic singers. Where can I buy a photo copy of her? Please reply at "eastwestintl@comcast. Net".

17 Anna Netrebko Anna Yuryevna Netrebko is a Russian operatic soprano. She holds dual Russian and Austrian citizenships and resides in Vienna, Austria, and in New York City.

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.

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.

Anna is just a great opera singer, with a voice unequaled in my humble opinion. She is just stunning and she tells us her voice is still developing. Looking forward to discovering how much more she will be able to offer. Anna "lives" her part (s) and has a great sense of humor.

This prima donna opens seasons at Metropolitan Opera and La Scala to acclaim, reigns supreme at Salzburg Festival and Vienna and Berlin, tops a pop chart with CD of opera arias... Anna Netrebko is today in her prime and that prime is spectacular. She has already made operatic history and she's far from finished!

18 Shirley Jones

Beautiful voice. Carousel is my favorite musical along with The sounds of music. Shirley is not an operatic soprano, but her voice has so much feelings. Watch the last scene from Carousel, when her late husband comes down from heaven and whisper to Shirley (who can't see him, but apparently can hear his voice... Well, he said "I love you, Julie, know that I love you. Her sad face instantly lights up as joins in the choir of "If you walk through a storm". Not a dry eye in the house. I've watched that scene 100+ times. And I cry every time I watch it.

19 Angela Gheorghiu

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.

Modern day Callas. Her voice and emotion are a tear drop shaped diamond. Smooth, soft, rich, with just the right amount of sparkle, without a dark and hooty sound. A natural talent. Her voice has an old Classical sound. She has a strong chest voice like Callas too. Her emotion and acting are also what make her the best living soprano.

Angela it is indeed in the same league with Callas! Nobody else can double her! Comparing Angela to any other soprano today would be something like a comparison between Champagne and Coca-Cola! Viva Angela for ever!

Gheorghiu's instinct for great musical choices - that innate "thing" we call musicality - and her spellbinding timbre make me rank her the best opera singer in operatic history, above Maria Callas.

20 Diana Damrau

Diana Damrau is incomparable. Her high notes, unlike most sopranos, are not jarring and don't pierce the air, but rather, lightly float and touch your heart and soul. She rolls her R's perfectly and has one of the most gorgeous voices ever.

She truly rules as the Queen of the Night in the Magic Flute. Don't be surprised to see her listed along with such greats as Maria Callas, Beverly Sills, and Leontyne Prince for all-time best Opera Divas.

Diana Damrau is for me the best of all bests! She is exquisite! Check out her as the Queen of the Night in the Magic Flute, she is simply breath taking! One word: AMAZING!

You just have to listen to Damrau singing "Queen of the night". Her interpretation is the strongest and most impressive one I have ever heard. Truely unbelievable.

21 Cecilia Bartoli

Cecilia is the world's best mezzo soprano. Her beautiful, rich, expressive voice, passionate performances and stunning beauty make for the ultimate in operatic entertainment. She belongs in the top 10.

Your singing for the sake of music. Every person on this list you shouldn't compare yourselves to others believe in your own talents and work them for your name

Excellence in voice. Love the seeming control and lack of it in the song. Very expressive and passionate.

Cecilia is the very best female singer I have ever watched and listened. She is a wonderful woman!

22 Carmen Monarcha

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!

Yes absolutely amazing voice and such commanding stage presence you can't take your eyes off her. She has such grace and beauty as well. Her Ave Maria is unsurpassable as is her most moving rendition of O Mio Babbino Caro... And Ebben. The list is endless really. The complete package and a true star who should be world famous and should be recording prolifically but is without a deal. It's incomprehensible really. She's that good.

A stunning voice and a stunning woman. She is the ultimate package as she can sing soprano, mezzo-soprano and contralto and sings light opera as well as opera, popular, pop, jazz, and blues tunes. Hers is such a versatile voice and is well suited to most material she chooses to sing.

23 Elina Garanca

My all time favourite with a voice that's a mixture of honey and gold. I don't care that she doesn't sing F6s. I care that she sings with a brilliant mixture of skill and emotion and in a voice that is One for the Ages. I shall not hear her like again. I believe she is the best singer in opera today.

Definitely one of the top singers and " The best Mezzo Soprano " there is.
Her Carmen is the tops, nobody compares. Put that voice to her beautiful appearance
And earthly style... How can she not be in the top five!

Beautiful, intelligent singer with a warm mezzo that never ceases to impress and touch me.

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

24 Renata Tebaldi

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.

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.

Absolute best tone... Pitch... Phrasing... & not over the top... Just perfectly exquisite and effortless in the top range without belting or screeching. Listen to her 'best" album songs vs. The other best album songs from the other greats (Callas, Price, Southerland) & she is incomparable.

Renata Tebsaldi has no equal. The lady's voice was equal to the joy of breathing, eating, love, and childhood memories of all that stirred the heart. Brilliant opera singer with a spirit and personality to match. Tod Jonson

25 Astrid Varnay

Ruled the Wagnerian world between the reigns of Kirsten Flagstad and Birgit Nilsson.

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