Top 10 Greatest Sopranos of All Time

In your opinion, who do you think are the ten greatest sopranos of all time?
The Top Ten
1 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.

I have been listening to her magnificent voice for over forty years and all I can say it is uncanny. There are those that would liken her to some of the greatest singers in history but no one has ever been able to reach the stratospheric heights that Dame Joan achieved. She was able to achieve vocal acrobatics with her voice (The Bell Song) that has never been achieved by another singer and her bel canto mastering sets her apart from anyone else that has attempted it except Marilyn Horne. The Golden age of Opera was the period that Sutherland, Horne and Pavarotti sang as an ensemble, never to be matched or duplicated. We were so lucky to hear and see them before Joan and Luciano left us. Thank you for the most incredible music we will ever hear.

Sutherland is my all-time favorite. Her voice was huge and instantly recognizable for its unique, seamless beauty of tone, range, supreme technique, unparalleled trilling, control and coloring. Not noted for her acting skills (which improved with age, though if I want to see great acting I'll go to a play), she could create drama with her singing alone, and send chills down your spine with her incredible high notes and precise passagework. As much as I admire Callas (Sutherland's only rival), no other soprano voice has ever thrilled me as much as Dame Joan's. Don't agree? Listen to her rare recording of "Santo di Patria" on YouTube: You'll never hear anything to rival it.

Maria Callas may have been a better stage performer, but Joan Sutherland could sing circles around Callas. Her voice was HUGE and hearing her live was an unforgettable experience even if she as having an off voice night. Her top notes did not loose power like others they were loud and perfect.

I saw her live later in her career performing one of her last Lucias. She had the score transposed down a tone and did not attempt a Eb6 but rather a Db6 which was stunning for its volume and how long she sustained it.

Sutherland's voice was powerful, breathtakingly beautiful, and amazingly flexible. Her top register was simply spectacular. Hers was THE voice of the twentieth century. She is unquestionably the greatest soprano in recorded history. Others may have had greater dramatic skills, but their voices cannot be compared with hers.

2 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.

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!

She was and still is the best. Her voice is remarkable and I personally think that too much awards have been given to persons like Renee Flemming who sloops ups a lot in her singing and and I think Maria was not appreciated that much. What do they give awards for. Plainly hypnotizing the audience and being great in looks? I would like to see President Obama and others give other opera singers like to see Ceclia Baratoli and other singers a chance to get awards also. Everything is not Renee. We have failed to realize this. How about upcoming female opera singers?

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.

3 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 release to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Classical Albums chart. In 2017, Evancho performed the U.S. national anthem at the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump and became the youngest person ever to perform a concert series at Café Carlyle.

No one person can hear every singer throughout history. But I've listened to thousands of them for many decades of following music. Jackie is not only the best I've ever heard she is By FAR the best I ever heard. She has a soft beautiful lower range, but can go into high notes easily without getting shrill or harsh. She is the best I ever heard that can sing anything from opera arias to Pop to Broadway to movie songs to classical. She is amazing. Go check her out on youtube by starting with 'All of the Stars', 'May it Be' 'The Lord's Prayer', Nessun Dorma' 'Lovers' 'Apocalypse'. You can't find another singer that can do all those as good as her.

Not to take away from any of the other great sopranos past and present, but in my humble opinion, from listening and experiencing those great sopranos and to so many exquisite singers over the past several decades, Jackie Evancho is the one. The drop-to-your-knees in awe and admiration you just know is the best you have ever witnessed. We are so very fortunate to be alive at this time in history as this incredible voice.

I've loved this kid ever since I saw and heard her on AGT - which she should have won! But ranking her among Callas, Flagstad, Schwarzkopf, Netrebko or Kiri isn't fair. She's not there by a long shot, and I doubt that she ever will be. Oh, I'll listen to her, over and over, any day, but I don't think she'll develop into a great opera singer. Classical crossover is her big thing, although she's dabbling in pop - where she is one of - TOO - many!

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.

4 Montserrat Caballé

Opera is show... And she has given more spectacular moments on stage than any other singer. Without any doubt, the most beautiful voice in the recorded era, just hearing the sound is tantalizing, irregular interpreter, but pure magic.
Bolena, Devereux, Don Carlo, Lucrezia, Traviata, Salome, Norma, Pirata... Look for the magic there...

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.

No one could sing those long, high pianissimo notes better. Huge repetoire.

Best high pianos ever...

5 Birgit Nilsson

Birgit Nilsson is without any doubt the greatest soprano singer we have seen overall. Her capacity doesn't only fullfil being a true Wagnering but her way of mastering Verdi and Puccini speaks for itself. Let's be honest. Is there any other one who have done the journey and deliveried full satisfaction to the Opera world as La Nilsson had done! - In my book - No!

Greatest Wagnerian of All Time. Had a voice that could shatter glass, and
A dynamic personalty. Saw her in Electra, Salome, Isolde, and three rings at
The Beyreuth festival, saw Electra and Salome at Met, and her Electra was

Her voice is a laser beam, capable of surpass a big orchestra.

Second best Wagnerian soprano after Kirsten Flagstad, a remarkable voice.

6 Leontyne Price

No one was more exciting. No one was more artistic. No one had a more beautiful sound. No one was close.

Her voice has a extra layer which makes it just that much richer than all others.

Beauty from top to bottom. Clear in the high register. Smoky in the low register. Unique sound

She is REALLY the one and only. No one can compete with her.

7 Victoria 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!

Deserves to be here. One of the greats, and will never be forgotten.

One of the most even lyric soprano voices. A perfect Marguerite.

8 Beverly 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.

Beverly Sills is my all-time favourite singer. Whether listening to her recordings, singing live or sharing a moment in passing conversation, I admire her singing, her musicality, her characterizations and above all, her humanity. she remains my all-time number one.

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.

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.


9 Kirsten Flagstad

No one had the seamless voice she possessed. From bottom to top there were no distinct registral changes. Absolutely had the greatest vocal line in history. The other singers on this list should take notice. She carressed every note, never a harsh sound. A voice lesson for us all.

The best Wagnerian soprano of the 20th Century; she could shatter glass with her voice. Ring of the Nibelung along with Tristan und Isolde are must haves in any opera music library.

Greatest soprano of the 20th century without a doubt. The supreme singer of Wagner which is the toughest test for any singer.

Greatest soprano voice of the 20th century. The greatest soprano in Wagner which is the toughest test for any singer.

10 Lucia Popp

How ridiculous. This lady has to be in the top 3. The other two might be Sutherland and Janowitz. Kiri and Ileana are up there also. Popp is special though - and a real beauty.

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.

I cannot see past Lucia Popp as the very best ever. Mozart would have loved her

Clearest and cleanest voice of them all!

The Contenders
11 Renata 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.

Saw her at the Met when I was young and fell in love with her voice. Tosca, Butterfly and later, lucky enough to see and hear her in Gioconda at
The New Met.

Tebaldi's voice is the most beautiful sound ever the world has ever known.

Incomparable. No other soprano matches her shear vocal beauty.

12 Sumi 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 very talented and well trained, so hers can be regarded as the masterpiece instrument of voice: One of the most qualified coloratura in the world now!

She has a very clear and delicate voice yet with lots of volume. Her singing technique is superb and engages listeners with the song's emotions.

Her voice is rare and unique among other opera singers who I know.

13 Jessye Norman

A singer with a wonderful and powerful voice. Its flexibility is impressive in terms of singing.

In my opinion she is number 1 simply the most wonderful voice in my humble opinion.

Rich resonant voice. Distinctive sound.

14 Margaret Price
15 Renee Fleming

Renee Fleming is like Mario Lanza and Placido Domingo. She can sing anything and her voice gives me shivers up my spine. Fantastic control and so much feeling in her singing and what a range. I am Australian and feel that Joan Sutherland is not even close to Renee. She should be right at the top of this list

Renee Fleming is in my opinion the best ever. Her control is fantastic and you can feel what she is singing. I have had 4 years of classical training myself and have never heard a soprano like her. Forget Joan Sutherland, you can't even tell what language she is singing in.

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.

Fleming should be in the top five! She is extraordinary, not only as one of the greatest soprano's of all times, but also as ambassador for music and her magnetic personality! Daleen Kruger (South Africa)

16 Angela Gheorghiu

Mrs. Angela Gheorghiu has both a divine voice and a charming presence. Simple as that!
God bless her mother and father of raising her and all the professors and teachers who make her shine even more!

Mrs Gheorghiu and Mrs. Netrebko should have been way higher on this list!

Seeing her in concert, was the musical experience of my life!

Beautiful, delicate, feminine... Great voice and presence!

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.

Purest voice I've heard, along with Dame Joan Sutherland (definitely No. 1) and Leontyne Price!
Never appears to be in trouble pulling any note and/or velocity! Love her acting ability also!
Would love her to come to New Zealand, along with Rolando Villazon; however I don't know whether we would have a venue large enough to accommodate all those wishing to attend such a concert. One can only wish for a miracle. Has Anna ever sung 'Tosca', because she seems to sing 'Puccini' with interpretation very easily. If so, I would love to know how to get my hands on a copy!
As you can probably tell, I, along with a multitude of others, love very much to listen to 'Anna'! Absolutely a delight and a privilege.

John Bary

Anna Netrebko is up there with the great sopranos. She's got this roch fullness in her voice, the warmth of a mezzo and the register of a coloratura.

Better than Fleming or Gheorghiu. She had Callas' acting abilities

We can still enjoy her

18 Amira Willighagen Amira Willighagen is a Dutch soprano singer who won the sixth season of Holland's Got Talent in 2013 at the age of 9.

Amira has a naturally gifted voice which, together with careful training, is developing into a fine operatic facility. She produces a lovely quality of tone throughout her range, with just sufficient vibrato to colour her notes. So many sopranos use far too much vibrato, in my opinion. Amira is still only 13, but if her voice continues to mature as she grows into adulthood, she could become one of the finest sopranos of all time. I am following her progress with keen interest.

Such a beautiful voice, I never get tired of listening to her. And an engaging personality too. Her first love is still opera music, and she is a hard worker at learning. With a love of putting drama and emotion into her singing, she has great potential (now just 13) for performing in full operas eventually, as well as singing in concerts - which she already does with great success.

When Amira was 9 years old she wowed the world with her amazing voice. So what's special about Amira? Well she taught herself to sing opera by using You tube.
This alone was a major feat as she is Dutch and the Opera are mainly in Italian, so not only did she learn the music she had to learn how to pronounce the words.
This child has an amazing voice and equally an amazing heart.

Amira has always had one of the most naturally beautiful and unforced voices ever. When she won Holland's Got Talent at the age of nine, her big 'thing' was hitting the highest notes --- but now, at 13, her lower register has also filled out very nicely. Among girls her age, I think that Amira, along with Marjolein Acke of Belgium, are most likely to be successful at singing operatic music.

19 Kiri Te Kanawa

She is the probably the best of the four here, but there are so many other great sopranos like Gundula Janowitz, Lucia Popp, Maria Staeder and Erna Berger. There are many many others also. Just because I haven't mentioned them doesn't mean they are not great or even the best.

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 best lyric soprano of our time. Ease of tone production, perfect phrasing and a beauty on the stage. Her Countess from "The Marriage of Figaro", Donna Elvira from "Don Giovanni" and Marschallin from "Rosenkavalier" are without equal.

So many perfect voices! Love Price, Fleming, Netrebko, Montserrat... But to me, there is one song makes all difference: Vocalise by Rachmaninoff! Nothing is better on this planet than Kiri singing Vocalise.

20 Luisa Tetrazzini

Coloratura incredibly accurate. A shame modern recording techniques were not around when she was.

21 Elisabeth Schwarzkopf

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

Seriously dude, Jackie Evancho #1, the great Maria Callas #3 and Shwarzkopf 19? I'm dumbfounded...

Number One, hands down!

22 Emma Kirkby
23 Mirella Freni
24 Pumeza Matshikiza
25 Edita Gruberova

The voice. Sheer beauty.

One of the best voices

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