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A coloratura (from Latin color = "color, coloring") is a quick sequence of tones with short note values, often of the same length , in singing . Coloratura are melismatic ; That is, several tones fall together on the vowel of a text syllable . They can be tied or staccato .

The principle of ornamentation surrounding the melody was developed since the Middle Ages and found its first climax in the practice of diminution in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, e.g. B. with composers like Luzzasco Luzzaschi or Giulio Caccini . Up until this point in time, coloring was a form of improvisation , which, however, remained essential well into the 19th century. The coloratura is an important part of the singing technique of bel canto and opera music from Claudio Monteverdi to Giuseppe Verdi and in the 18th century it was particularly part of the opera seria .

The virtuosity of the coloratura increased in the late baroque , when the most virtuoso singers were asked more and more often not only runs but also jumps and broken chords , as they were modern in violin and keyboard music. Famous castrati such as Farinelli or Carestini as well as prima donnas such as Faustina Bordoni , Caterina Gabrielli , Lucrezia Agujari and others played an important role in this development . a. The range was also expanded in the 18th century and already reached its upper limit in the Classical Age (the most famous example of this is the arias of the Queen of the Night in Mozart's Magic Flute ). In the early romantic operas of the so-called bel canto in Italy between 1810 and around 1850, especially with Gioachino Rossini , coloratura singing experienced its last major climax and was pushed to the limit of the possible - now also in the opera buffa . Even with Rossini's younger colleagues Bellini and Donizetti , drama played an increasingly important role and the coloratura gradually became fewer and simpler. While all voices in Italian opera sang coloratura until around 1830, these were the first to disappear from the male voices, until in the second half of the 19th century only the coloratura sopranos remained.

Almost no coloratura has been used in German opera since Carl Maria von Weber , which is due on the one hand to the development of a separate German national style, but also to the fact that German singers ( apart from exceptions such as Gertrud Elisabeth Mara or Henriette Sontag ) mostly did not have the spectacular coloratura technique like the Italians. In the course of the 19th century, the demand for drama became more and more important and coloratura was superseded by Verdi in Italy from around 1855 onwards, because the Romantics viewed it as increasingly old-fashioned and artificial. After 1860, virtuoso coloratura for high sopranos were occasionally used for happy, flirtatious or funny effects, e.g. B. by Jacques Offenbach in the aria of the puppet Olympia in Les Contes d'Hoffmann (1881) or in the Spring Voices Waltz (1883) by Johann Strauss .

With Richard Wagner , Giacomo Puccini and other verists , coloratura no longer played a role at all; it could no longer be reconciled with the naturalistic expressive claims of the thoroughly composed opera.

See also