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Acting in Plays, Singing/Soprano pieces for re-invention


Hello! I have always sung the alto voice but according to my voice past voice teacher and others I have the range of a dramatic soprano. I have never performed soprano pieces and I am getting back into auditioning after taking some time off for family.I would just like to know where would be a good place to start to build my soprano repertoire? Thank you in advance!!

Hi, Dominica --

Thank you for the question.

The term “dramatic soprano” is generally associated with the operatic repertoire and related classical music, i.e., art songs, the symphonic literature, oratorio, etc. The term refers to a vocal category or “fach”. As with the repertoire of an alto or mezzo-soprano, a dramatic soprano has qualities and textures in her voice that are ideally suited to a very specific list of roles. Another fach is the dramatic coloratura. Along with the power, she has an extended upper range and greater vocal agility.

Again, referring to the operatic repertoire, some of the composers who have created roles for the dramatic soprano include Verdi, Wagner, Mozart, Bellini, Strauss, Puccini, Donizetti, etc. Examples of those roles are Tosca, Aïda, Elsa, Sieglinde, Donna Anna, Ariadne, etc. The dramatic coloratura roles include Violetta, Fiordiligi, Rosalinda, Donna Elvira, etc.

It is not unusual for young mezzos to have accumulated performing experience in that fach and then suddenly be advised that their voice is actually that of a soprano and in a certain fach, i.e., dramatic soprano. But that scenario usually happens in very advanced situations – for example, in an intense training program linked to a major company. Here in San Francisco that would be the Merola Opera Training Program.

Getting back into vocal shape after a period of absence is a challenge even for the singer who is absolutely certain of their vocal category. But if it involves moving into an entirely different range, it’s not just a matter of singing higher – it’s about the adjustments that are made with placement and overall balance.

That’s where I come in as a vocal coach. My job as a singing teacher is about training your voice according to your vocal category – no matter what you sing. Obviously, the type of music you want to pursue has a huge influence on the training session. For example, the Pop singer – including those pursuing musical theatre – does not need / does not want to be heard over a large orchestra without a microphone in a theatre holding several thousand or more people.

What are your immediate goals? What kind of music do you want to sing? Where might you audition three months from now, six months or a year from now?

Keep in mind that vocal training is not only about working smart – it’s also about competition. At the moment, your “audition chops” are as rusty as your vocal range.

I am a vocal coach to working singers in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I'm also a music critic for – and – When you want to make an appointment, contact me at: I am also available for sessions on Skype.

Below are links to my recent articles and interviews:

New on CD: ‘As Long As There Are Songs’, by Stephanie Blythe

A Conversation with Ben Jaffe of Preservation Hall Jazz Band

A Conversation with Lucas Meachem - San Francisco Opera’s Barber of Seville

'Bettie Page Reveals All!' – A Fabulous Show & Tell Bio of '50s Pin-Up Queen

Composer Jake Runestad’s ‘Dreams of the Fallen’ - A Veteran’s Day Happening at the National WWII Museum

Joshua Gersen conducts the San Francisco Symphony in screenings of Hitchcock Classics, 10/30--11/2

Organist Todd Wilson plays ‘The Lodger’ (1927) at Davies Symphony Hall, Halloween Night

GREG FEDDERLY – A Comprimario Tenor Extraordinaire

Olivier Latry – Organist at Notre Dame de Paris, at Davies Hall, 10/12

A Conversation with Soprano Alexandra Silber – This week at Feinstein’s, 10/11-12

SF Jazz Center Goes Baroque - A Conversation with Countertenor David Daniels

Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne—A Daring World Premiere at San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera Opens 2013 Season with Boito’s “Mephistopheles”

Audra McDonald joins San Francisco Symphony in Opening Night Gala

Introducing Cheyenne Jackson and Alexandra Silber as San Francisco Symphony’s Tony & Maria in “West Side Story”

THE GERSHWINS AND ME – A Conversation with Michael Feinstein

A Conversation with Ted Neeley, Hollywood’s ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’

On ‘Billy Budd’—A Trio from Merola: Alex DeSocio, Thomas Richards, Robert Watson

Lawrence Brownlee—On ‘Carmina Burana’, with the SFSymphony—Tuesday, July 30th

On “The Joyless Street” at the Silent Film Festival—An Interview with Matti Bye

Nathan Gunn Is ‘Yeshua’ in San Francisco Opera’s “The Gospel of Mary Magdalene”

Natalie Dessay on ‘Becoming Traviata’—French Soprano bids ‘Adieu’ to opera stage

‘A Grand Romance’—A Spectacular CD from pianist Jeffrey Biegel

Philippe Sly Debuts In 'Cosi fan tutte' at San Francisco Opera

Nicole Henry redefines the '70s with her latest CD, 'So Good, So Right'

Nonsemble 6 presents Schoenberg's 'Pierrot Lunaire' – in corsets

Tenor Noah Stewart Debuts with Berkeley Symphony in World Premiere of New Work by Steven Stucky

Marnie Breckenridege, A Modern Soprano for Contemporary Opera

A Profile of Choreographer John Neumeier and his "Nijinsky"

In Conversation with Peter Gallagher – Coming to the Venetian Room

Melody Moore steps into Tosca — Opening Night at San Francisco Opera

'Moby-Dick' opens at San Francisco Opera: A Conversation with Composer Jake Heggie

'Drama Queens' – A Conversation with Mezzo-Soprano Joyce DiDonato

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A conversation with Joshua Bell, featured guest artist at opening of SF Symphony, 9/19

Samuel Ramey is Leo the Great in San Francisco Opera's 'Attila'

Tom Judson Is Making It Big In San Francisco

A Look at Gennadi Nedvigin, Principal Dancer with San Francisco Ballet

Organist Christopher Houlihan Makes A Powerful Debut at Davies Symphony Hall

RICHARD WINSOR – An Interview With the Star of 'Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake in 3D'

CUBAN BALLET – An Interview with Octavio Roca

A Look At "Giselle" with Ballerina Lorena Feijóo

ZUILL BAILEY – A Conversation

Best regards,
Sean Martinfield

Acting in Plays, Singing

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Sean Martinfield


I am a professional vocal coach in San Francisco. I have published over 3300 responses related to vocal training - particularly as it relates to Musical Theatre, Pop/Standard, and Opera. I have 30 years of experience as a personal trainer to working singers and actors in the San Francisco Bay Area. I sang professionally for 20 years and know what it means to live the life of a musician. I can determine your voice category, i.e., Tenor, Baritone, Bass, Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Alto, Alto Belter, etc., and how to broaden and strengthen your range. Need an audition song for a Broadway Musical? I can assist you with your song selections and help you build an audition portfolio that demonstrates your vocal category and meets the requirements specified in the audition notice. I have created a vocal methodology, "The Belter`s Method". It will enable those in Cabaret and Musical Theatre to practice more efficiently because it focuses on the vocal demands of professional performers and will keep you performance-ready. If what you want is a better voice and more control over your career moves and choices, contact me at: I am also a music and cultural critic for and I interview internationally recognized musicians, singers, dancers, and recording artists -- particularly those who are now appearing or scheduled to perform in San Francisco.


As a vocal coach, I work primarily with singers and actors throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. My students range from absolute beginners to working professionals, from kids to senior citizens. The vast majority of my clients come to me through recommendation. I know how to identify any singer's vocal category, i.e., soprano, tenor, alto, baritone, etc. I know how to muscle-up every singer's vocal range and to expand it beyond conventional definitions. I have developed a vocal methodology for those who want to know how to belt, THE BELTER'S METHOD. There are a number of major components to my work as a vocal coach. The first is to identify the client's vocal category and to strengthen and maximize the vocal range accordingly. Then it's about teaching a reliable vocal workout that will enable the client to gain better control of their musicianship. That includes scale work to expand the vocal range and to improve placement, breath control, and diction. Then we work on material for the audition portfolio, the immediate job or assignment, a recording session, etc. My task to is to better equip singers and actors who are hoping to or relying upon their performance skills and vocal endurance to maintain a career in the Performing Arts. My clients regularly appear in cabarets and musical productions throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Some have worked in New York and gone on National Tours. For more information, Contact me at:


San Francisco State University – BA in Theatre Arts; graduate work in Theatre, Philosophy, and Comparative Reiligion. Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley – Graduate work in Ethics

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