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Opera Singers The Baritone

4th Apr 2011

Opera singers are classified by several different voice types and these are based on their range, agility and strength. There are basically 5 main operatic voice types:
Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Tenor, Baritone, Bass
In this blog, we will focus on the Baritone. The Baritone singing voice lies between the Tenor and Bass voices and is the most common male voice type as it lies in the vocal range of most men. The origin of the word Baritone comes from the Greek “barytonos” which means “deep-sounding” . The baritone is the “heavy weight” of opera and the deep, resonant tones of the baritone always command attention and wow guests at our Singing Waiter shows and Opera Gala performances. 
Baritones did not come into fashion until the eighteenth century as until that time, the lower male voices were still referred to as bass voices. We have Mozart to thank for bringing the baritone voice into the limelight by creating operatic roles that defined the baritone as a distinct voice type and Verdi was so excited by the colour of the baritone voice and its ability to portray many different dramatic qualities that he cemented the baritone voice in operatic history.
Lyric baritones sing some of opera’s most loved roles such as Figaro in The Barber of Seville, Papageno in The Magic Flute and Escamillo the Toreador in Carmen.
We like to select the most popular opera arias for each voice type at our surprise singing waiter shows and opera galas. By far, the most popular and well-known baritone aria is the Toreador’s aria from Carmen:
Possibly the most popular opera of all time, George Bizet’s Carmen was a failure at its premiere on March 3, 1875 at the Opera Comique in Paris. The opera was a notorious failure at its premiere, largely because of its unconventional and provocative subject matter. Unfortunately, Bizet died exactly 3 months after its premiere and never saw the success of Carmen which only gained worldwide popularity when it was performed in Vienna 6 months later. The opera is set in Seville in the early 19th century. Act 2 of the opera takes place at an inn just outside the city walls. Escamillo, a famous and glamorous bullfighter, enters the tavern. The crowd, including soldiers from the garrison, raise a glass in his honour and are fascinated as he vividly tells of life in the bullring and Carmen is captivated........whether it’s part of the wedding or reception, a corporate event or after dinner entertainment audiences instantly recognise this wonderful aria and can’t resist joining into the uplifting chorus!
Largo Il Factotum is another audience favourite at our Singing Waiter performances. From the opera The Barber of Seville by Rossini, the aria is sung by Figaro, the barber, in Act 1 as his entrance to the opera. The show-off barber and jack-of-all-trades is explaining what an important figure he is in Seville and how heavily the town relies upon him. It’s worth noting that a barber in earlier times was a kind of surgeon and dentist, as well as a barber. Then, as sometimes is still true today, men went to the barbershop to find out what was going on and maybe to get some help in getting themselves out of a jam. The aria is well-known and a bit of a tongue twister for the singer who has to navigate difficult technical passages with very fast and complicated lyrics but the result is a thrilling aria that has audiences on the edge of their seats!