The Spinto Soprano in Selected Heroine Roles of Giacomo Puccini

Open Access
Carpenter, Katharine Christine
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Music
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Charles D. Youmans , Thesis Supervisor
  • Mark Ballora, Honors Advisor
  • spinto
  • soprano
  • Puccini
  • opera
  • Tosca
  • Manon Lescaut
  • Madama Butterfly
This thesis will demonstrate that the spinto soprano is the only appropriate voice type to portray the heroine roles of select Puccini operas. For Floria Tosca in Puccini’s Tosca, Manon Lescaut in Manon Lescaut, and Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly, one commonly finds lyric sopranos, dramatic sopranos, and spinto sopranos used interchangeably. The practice of casting voice types other than the spinto soprano in these operas has evolved over time from a misunderstanding of the vocal demands of the roles, the dramatic requirements of the heroines, and the physical and musical capabilities of the various soprano voice types. By analyzing selections of the full score of these operas and reviewing recordings of acclaimed sopranos performing these roles, the conclusion can be made that the spinto soprano is the one and only voice type that can perform these roles while maintaining the composer’s integrity and the singer’s vocal health. I hope that my thesis will renew awareness of the spinto soprano as a vocal instrument uniquely suited to the dramatic and musical requirements of these select heroine roles. Casting directors must be aware of the specific vocal requirements of these roles in order to protect singers from damaging their voices and to prevent bad singing from damaging the honor of the roles.