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The German Fach (pl. Fächer, literally "subject") (German pronunciation: [ˈfax, ˈfɛçəɐ]) system is a method of classifying singers, primarily opera singers, according to the range, weight, and color of their voices. It is used world wide, 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. A singer who is identified as being of a certain Fach or voice type will usually be asked to sing only roles that belong to that Fach. This 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 to appropriate to each. When two names for the Fach are given, the first is in more common use today. Where possible, an English equivalent of each Fach is listed; however, not all Fächer have ready English 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.

Contents

Soprano Fächer

Lyrischer Koloratursopran / Koloratursoubrette

Soprano C to F.svg

Dramatischer Koloratursopran

Soprano C to F.svg

Deutsche Soubrette / Charaktersopran

Soprano C to C.svg

Lyrischer Sopran

Soprano B to C.svg

Jugendlich Dramatischer Sopran

Soprano A to C.svg

Dramatischer Sopran

Soprano A to C.svg

Hochdramatischer Sopran

File:Soprano G to C.svg
  • English equivalent: Wagnerian soprano
  • Range: From about the G below middle C to the C two octaves above middle C
  • Description: A voice equal to the demands of operas of Wagner's maturity. Basically, a full dramatic soprano voice taken to the next dimension. 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: only one or two appear in a generation.

Mezzo-soprano and Contralto Fächer

Koloratur-Mezzosopran

Soprano G to B.svg
  • English equivalent: Coloratura mezzo-soprano
  • Range: From about the G below middle C to the B two octaves above middle C
  • Description: Found especially in Rossini's operas, these roles were written originally for altos with agility and secure top notes. Today they are often played by mezzo-sopranos and sometimes even by sopranos. At times a lyric or full lyric soprano with a flexible voice will assume the roles as written while a true coloratura soprano will sing the same music transposed upwardly to a higher key.
  • Roles:

Lyrischer Mezzosopran / Spielalt

Soprano G to B.svg

Dramatischer Mezzosopran

Soprano G to B.svg

Dramatischer Alt

File:Soprano F to F.svg

Tiefer Alt

File:Soprano E to F.svg
  • English equivalent: Low Contralto.
  • Range: From about the E below middle C to the E two octaves above
  • Description: A low female voice.
  • Roles:

Tenor Fächer

Spieltenor / Tenor Buffo

Tenor C to B.svg

Charaktertenor

Tenor B to C.svg

Lyrischer Tenor

Tenor C to C.svg

Jugendlicher Heldentenor

Tenor C to C.svg

Heldentenor

Tenor B to C.svg

Baritone Fächer

Lyrischer Bariton / Spielbariton

Baritone B to G.svg

Kavalierbariton

Baritone A to G Sharp.svg

Charakterbariton

Baritone A to G Sharp.svg

Heldenbariton

Bass G to F Sharp.svg

Lyric Bassbariton/Low Lyric Baritone

  • English equivalent: Lyric Bass-baritone.
Bass G to F Sharp.svg

Dramatic Bassbariton/Low DramaticBaritone

  • English equivalent: Dramatic Bass-baritone.
Bass G to F Sharp.svg

Bass Fächer

Basso Cantante/Lyric Bassbariton/High Lyric Bass

Bass E to F.svg

Hoherbass/Dramatic Bassbariton/High Dramatic Bass

Bass E to F.svg

Jugendlicher Bass

Bass E to F.svg

Spielbass/Bassbuffo/Lyric Buffo

Bass E to F.svg

Schwerer Spielbass/Dramatic Buffo

Bass C to F.svg

Lyric Seriöser Bass

Bass C to F.svg

Dramatic Seriöser Bass

Bass C to F.svg

References

  1. ^ John Warrack; Ewan West (1992). The Oxford Dictionary of Opera. USA: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-869164-5. 
  2. ^ Bass Guide, BBC Wales
  • Kloiber, Rudolf; Konold, Wulf; and Maschka, Robert. Handbuch der Oper, 9. Auflage, Kassel (Bärenreiter) 2002, ISBN 3-7618-1605-7
  • Steane, J. B. Fach in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, ed. Stanley Sadie (London, 1992) ISBN 0-333-73432-7

Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

German

Etymology

Old High German fah

Pronunciation

Noun

Fach n. (genitive Fachs or Faches, plural Fächer)

  1. compartment
  2. drawer
  3. subject







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