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Top 5...Sopranos

5. Elisabeth Schwarzkopf

This german soprano was loved in her native country of Germany and around the world for her warm tone and passionate performances. Her first role was as Eurydice in a school production of Gluck's "Orfeo ed Euridice" . Later she became well-known singing the operas and songs of Mozart, Wolf and Strauss. Don't miss her performance of Strauss' "Vier Letzte Lieder" (Four Last Songs).



4. Joan Sutherland

Renowned for her amazing coloratura - runs of incredibly high and fast notes - the Australian soprano Joan Sutherland seemed always to be pushing to the limits of what was possible of the human voice. She was known as "La Stupenda" in Italy, and was described as the "Voice of the Century" by Pavarotti. Listen out for her incredible trills and superb top notes!




3. Renata Tebaldi

The Italian soprano Renata Tebaldi came to the world's attention after she sang for the famous conductor Tosanini. He described her as having the "voice of an angel" and she went to star in operas all over the world, including at the Metropolitan in New York and La Scala in Milan. Her voice is beautifully smooth and lyrical and the perfect voice for Puccini's "Madama Butterfly".





2. Birgit Nilsson

Birgit Nillson's brilliant, ringing soprano tone took her to all the famous opera houses in the world. Brought up on a farm in rural Sweden, she retained her down-to-earth sense of humour throughout her life. In her biography she recalls being desperate for the toilet before an important audition and weeing through a slatted bench in the park! Her recording of Leonora in Beethoven's difficult opera "Fidelio" is something quite special.




1. Maria Callas

Perhaps the superstar of all sopranos, Maria Callas is iconic not just for her voice, but also for her clothes, her lifetstyle, her face and her stage presence. She is not the most precise or technically perfect soprano, but her passionate performances and unique flair make her the unrivalled No.1 soprano of the twentieth century.