Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cross-dressing Research

A brief chronological list of male opera roles sung from the beginning by women.  The purpose of this seems to be to make the character seem youthful.


role opera composer  Fach
Sesto Giulio Cesare Handel soprano
Sesto La clemenza di Tito Gluck mezzo-soprano
Cherubino Nozze di Figaro Mozart mezzo-soprano
Annio La clemenza di Tito Mozart mezzo-soprano
Tancredi Tancredi Rossini mezzo-soprano
Roggiero Tancredi Rossini mezzo-soprano
Ottone Adelaide di Borgogna Rossini contralto
Malcolm La Donna del Lago Rossini mezzo-soprano
Arsaces Semiramide Rossini contralto
Puck Oberon Weber contralto
Isolier Le comte Ory Rossini mezzo-soprano
Jemmy William Tell Rossini soprano
Romeo I Capuletti e I Montecchi Bellini mezzo-soprano
Smeton Anna Bolena Donizetti mezzo-soprano
Maffio Orsini Lucrezia Borgia Donizetti contralto
Vanya A Life for the Tsar Glinka contralto
Urbain Les Huguenots Meyerbeer mezzo-soprano
Ascanio Benvenuto Cellini Berlioz mezzo-soprano
Pierroto (?) Linda di Chamounix Donizetti contralto
Ratmir Russlan and Ludmilla Glinka contralto
Adriano Rienzi Wagner mezzo-soprano
The Shepherd Tannhäuser Wagner soprano
Siebel Faust Gounod mezzo-soprano
Oscar Ballo in Maschera Verdi soprano
Stephano Romeo and Juliet Gounod soprano
Tibaldo Don Carlo Verdi soprano
Fyodor Boris Godunov Mussorgsky mezzo-soprano
Orlofsky Fledermaus Strauss, J mezzo-soprano
Nicklausse Tales of Hoffmann Offenbach mezzo-soprano
Walter La Wally Catalani soprano
Hansel Hänsel und Gretel Humperdinck mezzo-soprano
The Sand-Man Hänsel und Gretel Humperdinck soprano
The Dew-Man Hänsel und Gretel Humperdinck soprano
Cricket Cricket on the Hearth Goldmark soprano
Le Prince Charmant Cendrillon Massenet soprano/tenor
The Kitchen Boy Rusalka Dvořák soprano
Yniold Pelleas et Melisande Debussy soprano
Page Salome Strauss contralto
Chérubin Chérubin Massenet mezzo-soprano
Octavian Rosenkavalier Strauss mezzo-soprano
The Composer Ariadne auf Naxos Strauss mezzo-soprano
Aljeja, a young Tartar From the House of the Dead Janáček mezzo-soprano
Cherubino Ghosts of Versailles Corigliano mezzo-soprano
Ariel The Tempest Ades soprano
Pip Moby Dick Heggie soprano

The list isn't intended to be complete but instead tries to show how this spans all eras and nationalities of opera.  Nicklausse in Conte d'Hoffmann is a special case, since the character represents both Hoffmann's female muse and male friend.  There is another list at least this long of roles originally sung by castrati, but the date range is earlier.

3 comments:

mamascarlatti said...

We can add in Sesto in Giulio Cesare, first sung by a soprano. As you say it must be because Sesto is a very young boy.

Dr.B said...

You're right. I'll add that.

mamascarlatti said...

I remembered another one, because I had just seen the DVD with the wonderful Daniela Barcellona in the part: Ottone in Rossini's Adelaide di Borgogna, written for contralto.