The word coloratura () is originally from Italian, literally meaning "coloring", and derives from the Latin word colorare ("to color"). When used in English, the term specifically refers to elaborate melody, particularly in vocal music and especially in operatic singing of the 18th and 19th centuries, with runs, trills, wide leaps, or similar virtuoso-like material. Its instrumental equivalent is ornamentation. It is also now widely used to refer to passages of such music, operatic roles in which such music plays a prominent part, and singers of these roles.
== Historical usage ==
The term "coloratura" was first defined in several early non-Italian music dictionaries: Michael Praetorius's Syntagma musicum (1618); Sébastien de Brossard's Dictionaire de musique (1703); and Johann Gottfried Walther's Musicalisches Lexicon (1732). In these early texts "the term is dealt with briefly and always with reference to Italian usage".
Christoph Bernhard (1628–1692) defined "coloratura" in two ways: has a high range and requires the singer to execute with great facility elaborate ornamentation and embellishment, including running passages, staccati, and trills. A coloratura soprano has the vocal ability to produce notes above high C (C6) and possesses a tessitura ranging from A4 to A5 or higher (unlike lower sopranos whose tessitura is G4–G5 or lower).
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.
Examples of coloratura music for different voice ranges include:
* Mozart's Allelujah (from Exsultate, jubilate) may be arranged for and sung by a properly trained contralto, mezzo-soprano or soprano. The piece was written for soprano castrato. * The aria Every valley shall be exalted from Handel's Messiah is an example of a coloratura piece for tenor. * Each singer of a major role in Rossini's operas must have a secure coloratura technique. * Osmin, a character in Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio, is a coloratura role for a bass. * 'Agitata da due venti (Agitated by two winds)' a coloratura mezzo-soprano aria, from Antonio Vivaldi's opera Griselda.
== See also == *Bel canto *Diatonic and chromatic § Medieval coloration
== Notes ==
== References == * Apel, Willi, ed. (1969). Harvard Dictionary of Music, second edition. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. . * Miller, Richard (2000). Training soprano voices. New York: Oxford University Press. . * Randel, Don Michael, ed.; Apel, Willi, ed. (1986). New Harvard Dictionary of Music. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. . * Sadie, Stanley, ed. (1992). The New Grove Dictionary of Opera (four volumes). London: Macmillan. .
Category:Italian opera terminology Category:Ornamentation