Top 10 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.

Maria Callas created her own art. 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 every 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 of her.

She broke through with unbelievable talent that was her own individual sound that was out of the norm but was so amazing.

I hate opera singers just because I find it boring. 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 break out of the norm of society and create her own 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 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. If it weren't for Maria Callas, we wouldn't have seen such diversity in music like we do today. Thanks, Maria Callas, and happy 90th birthday.

2 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 singing in her upper register, with 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. 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.

3 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... read more

She is too good to be real. In my opinion, she is the best singer. She can sing classical songs and metal. Her high and slow notes are amazing, and it's just unbelievable to hear her singing. She's a true angel and siren! She's great on stage, smiling and interacting with the audience, and she sounds even better live.

She has a great style and is the sweetest person ever. She is absolutely gorgeous! Her beauty is unique. She's not just one of the best singers but also the most beautiful person inside and out in the world. One word to describe her: Perfect.

4 Montserrat Caballé

She is unbelievably musically competent, down to even the smallest details. Her voice is mighty but tenuous, only short in the higher range.

With a great sense of melody and wonderful sensibility, she is number one in slow and emotional arias, and those are the most moving. For me, she deserves the 5th place or so.

I got to hear Montserrat Caballé 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 my favorite singer, which, of course, no one else could ever imagine.

5 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 sopranos 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 Fleming. After that, the others pale in vocal quality.

6 Megan Marie Hart

Just when I thought there were no great opera singers left, I discovered this amazing soprano. The record industry wants you to buy their back catalog and floods the media with press releases about a handful of mediocre singers, while the real art is still being made in front of live audiences.

Megan Marie Hart has a truly remarkable voice, a beautiful timbre with stunning shimmering high notes, and an incredibly versatile expression with so many different colors! That alone is a reason to include her in this list. Combined with the range of her acting performances, I conclude: Megan Marie Hart is proof that great opera divas still exist! All is not lost for opera.

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... read more

This list features the top 11 greatest female opera singers, plus Jackie Evancho. This is very high praise indeed for a thirteen-year-old singer. If you ever doubt her name belongs on this list, listen to her CDs or go to YouTube and listen.

Jackie naturally reaches her audience in a way that opera stars wish they could. These ladies have worked 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.

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

I just want to say that I voted for Sarah because I don't know any particular opera singers. Sarah might be trained to reach the soprano notes, and her voice probably has an operatic touch, but she belongs to the world of theater, not opera.

She is fantastic, but as an opera singer? I'm not so sure. Her voice is angelic, I know, which is why I don't think she belongs in the opera class. She's more of a theatrical soprano who has a more developed operatic voice of Christine than most, but that voice doesn't fit to be utilized in operatic ways. No hate... I love Sarah, loved her as Christine, loved her as a stage actress, just not as an opera singer.

9 Renee Fleming

By far, Renee Fleming has 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 '80s 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 Milanov more than Callas, but how lucky we were to have all three!

10 Mirella Freni

A true Italian musician, Mirella Freni sang for five decades, winning over the hearts of the opera world. Conductor H.V. Karajan was once quoted as saying that if he could have any voice, Freni's would be his first choice.

The passion for music, not just opera, but music in general, is heart-wrenching. Her astounding technique and acting skills don't hurt either. She is one of the best singers of our time.

Mirella Freni possesses one of the most opulent, expressive voices ever heard. She is loved by all who worked with her and has always been humble about her gift. A great artist.

The Contenders
11 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 most 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 are far superior, and I find her voice to be extremely pure and powerful.

12 Mirusia Louwerse

Mirusia has a beautiful voice and a passion for her profession. She also appears to care deeply for her audience, engaging with us through her bright smile, laughter, and occasional jokes.

She is constantly implementing new ways to be creative on stage, and I love that her career has expanded beyond just working with Andre. She is also a superb world citizen, donating her time and effort to various causes that help people and young children.

Keep up the great work, Mirusia.

13 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 where I was a working crew member. She was ever so gracious and so humble when I acknowledged her and 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 and personally thank us for our professional and 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 Kiri's that I just love. I very rarely change my view, but there are a few singers like Kathleen Battle, Joan Sutherland, Callas, and Caballé who challenge her renditions of some songs.

14 Marta Fuchs
15 Martha Mödl
16 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 much 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 are 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.

17 Kirsten Flagstad

Pandora can't find her in its 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 heard anything like it before or since.

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

18 Anna Moffo

Amazing. Simply amazing. Lyrical voice and excellent coloratura technique. Mezzos usually fare better in Una Voce Poco Fa, but she definitely does the aria justice with her warm voice and mind-boggling agility.

Best Violetta ever! She seems to come down to us from the paintings made by artists of the 19th century! Dame! Beauty! Perfect voice!

Just a beautiful voice. Love her Caro Nome!

19 Elisabeth Schwarzkopf

The greatest Mozart 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.

20 Ilse Hübener
21 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 today's opera world. She is probably the last real diva.

Modern-day Callas. Her voice and emotion are a teardrop-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.

22 Rotraud Hansmann
23 Rosa Ponselle

Rosa would sing rings around most of those mentioned and was at least on par with Callas and Sutherland. People need to reacquaint themselves with her as Rosa was THE DIVA in the '20s and '30s while performing with Caruso at the Met.

Callas has said that Rosa was one of her first idols, so please give a listen as you will not be disappointed.

She made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in November 1918 at age 21 in the Met's first production of La Forza del Destino with Enrico Caruso, an opera that demands the highest level of vocal skill. She had never sung on an opera stage before.

Although scared stiff, she wowed the audience and critics, becoming the toast of New York. She was the go-to Verdi spinto soprano at the Met for the next 25 years.

24 Carmen Monarcha

Carmen Monarcha has a voice that makes you realize 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 stagecraft.

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!

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.

25 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 Price for all-time best opera divas.

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

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