As I dive into the Opera world, thought it made sense to go talk with people that are in it. Christina DeMaio is an mezzo / mezzo-soprano opera singer who lives in Connecticut. Once I introduced my inital research to her, I asked her to explain to me a bit better about her engagement in the opera and what is her usual role on productions. To have a mezzo voice means that she normally engages in secondary roles – pants roles such as young, servant boys or minor female characters. The mezzo voice, like the soprano, is likely to be a female voice.
“She looks like a mezzo”
As we started talking about how old compositions were adapted nowadays (specially with the castrati roles), she mentioned that body type can say what type of voice you have. As an example, mezzos are normally tall and slim (and therefore kind of look like boys). They also tend to have long necks, whereas a soprano normally has a shorter one / and shorter larger body. As we started talking about the sopranos, who are usually the main female character voice , she mentioned how the body shaming culture also is present in Opera – specially with the pressure that this type of art is going through to modernize. She mentioned that there is a male opera singer type of voice that is the equivalent of the male soprano. It’s called counter-tenor and it’s very present in baroque music. She said that a lot of times counter-tenors surprises the audience because they are a voice that plays a lot with tradition vs unexpected.
Characterization of characters within Opera
As I asked her if there were specific costumes for voice types, she mentions how what will define the type of costume that the opera singer will sing is the character that they are playing as well as the time period in which the opera was composed – and depending on the director’s approach regarding original production loyalty.On that perspective, sopranos have more to deal with the costume design because if there is a need of being true to the original context, there will be specific gestures and movement to be mimicked and costume can help by creating limitations to the singer not to make contemporary ones.