AskDefine | Define coloratura

Dictionary Definition



1 a lyric soprano who specializes in coloratura vocal music [syn: coloratura soprano]
2 singing with florid ornamentation

User Contributed Dictionary



From coloratura, from coloratura, from colorare "to colour".


  • /kɒləɹə'tjʊɹə/ /kQl@r@"tjUr@/


  1. florid or fancy passages in vocal music
  2. a singer of such passages, especially a soprano
    • 1980: The middle one, of course, was the coloratura Julia Kristeva, known as the most voluptuous Salome in the business. — Anthony Burgess, Earthly Powers

Extensive Definition

Coloratura has several meanings. The word derives from the Italian colorare (to colour; to heighten; to enliven) or colorazione (colouring, coloration).
Its most well-known meaning is applied to voice type - i.e., the coloratura soprano, most famously typified by the rôle of Queen of the Night in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. . This type of soprano has a high range and can execute with great facility the style of singing that includes elaborate ornamentation and embellishment, including running passages and trills. Other voice types may also be masters of coloratura technique, but the term coloratura when used without further qualification means soprano coloratura. Richard Miller names two types of soprano coloratura voices (the coloratura and the dramatic coloratura) as well as a mezzo-soprano coloratura voice, and although he does not mention the coloratura contralto, he includes mention of specific works requiring coloratura technique for the contralto voice.
The musicological meaning of coloratura is most specifically applied to the elaborate and florid figuration or ornamentation in classical (18th century) and romantic (19th century, specifically bel canto) vocal music. Coloration, a closely associated term, includes this meaning of coloratura, but also includes the florid ornaments written out for keyboard instruments and lute music. Early music (music of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries) includes a substantial body of music for which coloratura technique is required by vocalists and instrumentalists alike. This type of coloratura was first defined in several early non-Italian music dictionaries, like the works by Michael Praetorius in Syntagma Musicum (1618), Sébastien de Brossard in his Dictionnaire de musique (1703) and Johann Gottfried Walther in his Musicalisches Lexicon (1732), in which the term is dealt with briefly and refers to the word's Italian usage..
Christoph Bernhard defined it in two ways:
  • cadenza: ‘runs which are not so exactly bound to the bar, but which often extend two, three or more bars further [and] should be made only at chief closes’ (Von der Singe-Kunst, oder Maniera, c1649);
  • diminution: ‘when an interval is altered through several shorter notes, so that, instead of one long note, a number of shorter ones rush to the next note through all kinds of progressions by step or leap’ (Tractatus compositionis, c1657).
In the most famous Italian texts on singing (Caccini, 1601/2; Tosi, 1723; Mancini, 1774; García, 1841), coloratura is never used; it is also absent from the vocabulary of English authors as such as Burney and Chorley, who wrote extensively about Italian singing at the time when ornamentation was of utmost importance.
Strictly speaking, the term coloratura is not restricted to describing any one range of voice. In spite of its derivation from the word colorare or colorazione, it does not specify changing the tonal colour of the voice for expressive purposes (that is Voix sombrée) or the English term colouring the voice. There are coloratura parts for all voice types in different musical genres:
  • Each character in Rossini's operas has to have a secure coloratura technique.

See also

Another well known coloratura soprano is the amazing gospel singer , Lady Tramaine Hawkins, with her amazing and soulful gospel hits she has topped the list of American Gospel singers.


coloratura in Czech: Koloratura
coloratura in German: Koloratur
coloratura in Spanish: Coloratura
coloratura in French: Coloratura
coloratura in Italian: Coloratura
coloratura in Dutch: coloratuur
coloratura in Japanese: コロラトゥーラ
coloratura in Polish: Koloratura
coloratura in Portuguese: Coloratura
coloratura in Finnish: Koloratuuri
coloratura in Swedish: Koloratur

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

acciaccatura, alto, appoggiatura, arabesque, aria, aria buffa, aria cantabile, aria da capo, aria da chiesa, aria di bravura, aria di coloratura, aria fugata, aria parlante, arietta, arioso, baritone, bass, bel canto, bourdon, bravura, burden, cadence, cadenza, cantabile, chest voice, choral, choral singing, choric, croon, crooning, division, dramatic, drone, drone bass, embellishment, falsetto, fioritura, flight, flourish, folk singing, grace, grace note, head voice, heroic, hum, humming, hymnal, incidental, incidental note, intonation, liturgical, long mordent, lyric, lyricism, mordent, operatic, operatic singing, ornament, passage, pralltriller, psalmic, psalmodial, psalmodic, recitative, roulade, run, sacred, scat, scat singing, singing, single mordent, sol-fa, sol-fa exercise, solfeggio, solmization, solo, song, soprano, tenor, tonic sol-fa, treble, turn, vocal, vocal music, vocalization, voce, voce di petto, voce di testa, voice, warbling, yodel, yodeling
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