The low female singing voice in opera, choir, and non, classical music (the alto part in choir is sung by contraltos and mezzo-sopranos with strong low notes). The contralto has a range from F3 (below middle C) to G5 (the second G over middle C). This deep, dark female voice is the rarest female voice and they are known to sound almost like men on their lowest notes.
Sitting between mezzo sopranos and tenors, contraltos have relatively few roles in opera as little has been written specifically for them and what roles they have are usually that of maidservants, mothers, grandmothers, and friends of the heroine, but they occasionally get hardy roles, notably witches and goddesses. They also play roles originally meant for castratos (when mezzo-sopranos, countertenors, tenors, and baritones don't take them).
A number of pop singers and Broadway performers are contraltos, although they are not farther distinguished as they would be in opera. Examples include Fiona Apple, Cher, Toni Braxton, Etta James, Sarah Vaughn, Alicia Keyes, Diana Krall, Lisa Gerrard, Amy MacDonald, Yulia MacLean, Amy Winehouse, Adele, Reba MacIntire, Stevie Nicks, Katy Perry, Carly Simon, Ana Carolina, Emily Haines, Judy Garland, Chaka Khan, and Annie Lennox.
Based on vocal weight/voice type, contraltos are divided into three subcategories:
Coloratura contralto: light, agile, flexible, capable of vocal acrobatics (a rare voice).
Lyric contralto: stronger than coloratura contralto, but lighter and tamer than the dramatic contralto. Most common contralto voice.
Dramatic contralto: A powerful, rich, dark female voice and very rare.
Operatic contraltos include Ernestine Schumann-Heink, Maureen Forrester, Kathleen Ferrier, Marian Anderson, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Nathalie Stutzmann, Ewa Podles, Anna Larsson, and Sonia Prina.
The lowest womyn's singing voice; at the bottom of their range, they sound almost like men, often leading to people mistaking them for men on the radio, telephone, or wherever.
The alto range, which is below soprano, is really an easy combination of the mezzo-soprano range and the contralto range; the mezzo-soprano is the medium female voice and therefore the higher of the two.
The contralto voice is a pretty rare voice. And there is little work that was written specifically for the contralto. Countertenors, mezzo-sopranos, and often tenors, baritones, and basses take the roles that were written for them.
Marian Anderson and Kathleen Ferrier were legendary operatic contraltos in their day.
Toni Braxton is a famous popular music contralto. As are Brandy, Alicia Keyes, Cher, and Blu Cantrell, among others.
The lowest female singing voice. At their lowest, contraltos sometimes sound like Barry White. There are traditionally very few roles for contraltos in operas, though modern musical theatre has begun to include them. A common saying is that contraltos are only allowed to play "witches, bitches and britches," with "britches" referring to a trouser role.
Some famous contraltos are Cher, Fiona Apple, Patti LuPone and Marilyn Horne.
Some famous contralto roles in musical theatre are Katisha (The Mikado), Dalila (Samson et Dalila) and Charity (Sweet Charity).
The lowest womon's singing voice; on her lowest notes, she sounds almost like a man, often leading to people mistaking them for men on the radio, telephone, or wherever.
The alto range, which is below soprano, is really a mish-mash of the mezzo-soprano range and the contralto range; the mezzo-soprano is the higher of the two.
The contralto voice is pretty rare since there is little work that was written specifically for them. Countertenors, mezzo-sopranos, and often tenors, baritones, and basses take the roles that were written for them.