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Title: Fach  
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Subject: Voice classification in non-classical music, Voice type, Vocal range, Opera, Vocal weight
Collection: Classification Systems, German Words and Phrases, Opera Terminology, Voice Types
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The German Fach (pl. Fächer, literally "compartment" or also "subject (of study)", here in the sense of "(vocal) specialization") (German pronunciation: ) system is a method of classifying singers, primarily opera singers, according to the range, weight, and color of their voices. It is used worldwide, but primarily in Europe, especially in German-speaking countries and by repertory opera houses.

The Fach system is a convenience for singers and opera houses. It prevents a singer from being asked to sing roles which he or she is incapable of performing. Opera companies keep lists of available singers by Fach so that when they are casting roles for an upcoming production, they do not inadvertently contact performers who would be inappropriate for the part.

Below is a list of Fächer, their ranges as written on sheet music, and roles generally considered appropriate to each. When two names for the Fach are given, the first is in more common use today. Where possible, an English and/or Italian equivalent of each Fach is listed; however, not all Fächer have ready English or Italian equivalents. Note that some roles can be sung by more than one Fach and that many singers do not easily fit into a Fach: for instance some sopranos may sing both Koloratursopran and Dramatischer Koloratursopran roles. In addition, roles traditionally more difficult to cast may be given to a voice other than the traditional Fach. For instance, the "Queen of the Night" is more traditionally a dramatic coloratura role, but it is difficult to find a dramatic coloratura to sing it (particularly given the extreme range). Therefore, the role is often sung by a lyric coloratura.


  • Soprano Fächer 1
    • Lyrischer Koloratursopran / Koloratursoubrette 1.1
    • Dramatischer Koloratursopran 1.2
    • Deutsche Soubrette / Charaktersopran 1.3
    • Lyrischer Sopran 1.4
    • Jugendlich dramatischer Sopran 1.5
    • Dramatischer Sopran 1.6
    • Hochdramatischer Sopran 1.7
  • Mezzo-soprano and Contralto Fächer 2
    • Koloratur-Mezzosopran 2.1
    • Lyrischer Mezzosopran / Spielalt 2.2
    • Dramatischer Mezzosopran 2.3
    • Dramatischer Alt 2.4
    • Tiefer Alt 2.5
  • Tenor Fächer 3
    • Spieltenor / Tenor buffo 3.1
    • Charaktertenor 3.2
    • Lyrischer Tenor 3.3
    • Jugendlicher Heldentenor 3.4
    • Heldentenor 3.5
  • Baritone Fächer 4
    • Bariton/Baryton-Martin 4.1
    • Lyrischer Bariton / Spielbariton 4.2
    • Kavalierbariton 4.3
    • Charakterbariton 4.4
    • Heldenbariton 4.5
    • Lyrischer Bassbariton/Low lyric baritone 4.6
    • Dramatischer Bassbariton/Low dramatic baritone 4.7
  • Bass Fächer 5
    • Basso cantante/Lyric bass-bariton/High lyric bass 5.1
    • Hoher Bass/Dramatic bass-baritone/High dramatic bass 5.2
    • Jugendlicher Bass 5.3
    • Spielbass/Bassbuffo/Lyric buffo 5.4
    • Schwerer Spielbass/Dramatic buffo 5.5
    • Lyrischer seriöser Bass 5.6
    • Dramatischer seriöser Bass 5.7
  • References 6
  • Bibliography 7

Soprano Fächer

Lyrischer Koloratursopran / Koloratursoubrette

Dramatischer Koloratursopran

One must not mistake the Mozartian dramatic coloratura soprano with the Italian dramatic coloratura soprano. A singer that sings Konstanze, Donna Anna or Fiordiligi can not necessarily sing the Italian dramatic coloratura parts, due to other vocal demands. Imogene, Leonora and Violetta require a dramatic soprano voice and are most often sung by dramatic sopranos with an agile voice that can easily produce coloratura and high notes. Roles like Norma, Lady Macbeth, Odabella or Abigaille are good examples of Italian roles that are not necessarily a coloratura soprano (even though the score calls for coloratura singing), but a full bodied dramatic soprano with a voice that can handle extreme dramatic singing and that is flexible enough to sing coloratura. Giuseppe Verdi wrote many parts like this in his early years.

Deutsche Soubrette / Charaktersopran

Lyrischer Sopran

Jugendlich dramatischer Sopran

Dramatischer Sopran

  • English equivalent: full dramatic soprano
  • Range: From about the A below middle C to the C two octaves above middle C
  • Description: Characterized by their rich, full sounding voices, dramatic sopranos are expected to project across large orchestras, a feat that requires a powerful sound. Dramatic sopranos are not expected to have the vocal flexibility of the lighter Fächer. Although most dramatic sopranos have a darker, more robust quality to the voice, there are some that possess a lighter lyrical tone. In these instances, however, the substantial amount of volume and endurance normally associated with the dramatic soprano voice is still present. The darker voiced dramatic soprano may even make a foray into the dramatic mezzo-soprano territory with great success.

Two roles mentioned above, Salome and Die Kaiserin, are relatively high dramatic sopranos and require that the soprano can endure long stretches of very high tessitura. Richard Strauss himself said that Salome should be sung by someone with the flexibility of a dramatic coloratura due to the high tessitura.

Hochdramatischer Sopran

  • English equivalent: heaviest dramatic soprano
  • Range: From about the F below middle C to the C two octaves above middle C
  • Description: A voice capable of answering the demands of operas of Wagner's maturity. The voice is substantial, very powerful, and even throughout the registers. It is immense, stentorian and even larger than the voice of the "normal" dramatic soprano. Although the two voices are comparable and are sometimes hard to distinguish between, this voice has even greater stamina, endurance and volume than the former. Successful hochdramatische are rare.
  • Roles:

Mezzo-soprano and Contralto Fächer


Lyrischer Mezzosopran / Spielalt

Dramatischer Mezzosopran

Dramatischer Alt


Tiefer Alt

Tenor Fächer

Spieltenor / Tenor buffo


Lyrischer Tenor

Jugendlicher Heldentenor


Baritone Fächer


  • Range: From the low C to the B above middle C (C3 to B4)[10]
  • Description: The Baryton-Martin, named after Jean-Blaise Martin (sometimes referred to as Light Baritone)[11] lacks the lower G2–B2 range a heavier baritone is capable of, and has a lighter, almost tenor-like quality
  • Roles:

Lyrischer Bariton / Spielbariton



  • Italian: baritono verdiano
  • English equivalent: Verdi baritone
  • Range: From about the A below low C to the G above middle C
  • Description: A voice particularly effective with passages in its higher reaches. A high tessitura vis-a-vis the range extremes. A Verdi baritone refers to a voice capable of singing consistently and with ease in the highest part of the baritone range, sometimes extending up to the C above middle C, or "High C." The Verdi baritone will generally have a lot of squillo, or "ping"
  • Roles:


Lyrischer Bassbariton/Low lyric baritone

  • Range: From about the G below low C to the F above middle C
  • Description: The bass-baritone's required range can vary tremendously based on the role, with some less demanding than others. Some bass-baritones are baritones, while others are basses.
  • Roles:

Dramatischer Bassbariton/Low dramatic baritone

Bass Fächer

Basso cantante/Lyric bass-bariton/High lyric bass

Hoher Bass/Dramatic bass-baritone/High dramatic bass

Jugendlicher Bass

  • English equivalent: young bass
  • Range: From about the E below low C to the F above middle C (E to f')
  • Description: A young man (regardless of the age of the singer).
  • Roles:

Spielbass/Bassbuffo/Lyric buffo

Schwerer Spielbass/Dramatic buffo

Lyrischer seriöser Bass

Dramatischer seriöser Bass


  1. ^ a b c d Kloiber 2002, p. 899.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Kloiber 2002, p. 900.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Kloiber 2002, p. 901.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Kloiber 2002, p. 902.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Kloiber 2002, p. 903.
  6. ^ a b c d Kloiber 2002, p. 905.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kloiber 2002, p. 906.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Kloiber 2002, p. 907.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Kloiber 2002, p. 908.
  10. ^ John Warrack and Ewan West, The Oxford Dictionary of Opera, 2nd edition, 1992. ISBN 0-19-869164-5
  11. ^ Tom Huizenga, ( , "Breaking Down Baritones"
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Kloiber 2002, p. 909.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Kloiber 2002, p. 910.
  14. ^ Bass Guide, BBC Wales
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Kloiber 2002, p. 911.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g Kloiber 2002, p. 912. Kloiber has one category for the seriöser parts.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kloiber 2002, p. 913.


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