Definitions

Spinto

Spinto

[spin-toh; It. speen-taw]
Spinto (from Italian, "pushed") is a vocal term used to characterize a soprano or tenor voice of a weight between lyric and dramatic that is capable of handling large dramatic climaxes at moderate intervals. Sometimes the terms lirico-spinto or jugendlich-dramatisch are used. This voice type is recognized by its "slice," allowing the singer to be heard over a full Romantic orchestra in roles excluding, in particular, the most taxing of the Verdi, Puccini and verismo parts, such as Otello.

To illustrate what a spinto voice is, and how it differs from a lyric voice, a soundfile of Vissi d'arte sung by six different sopranos (on opera blog Parterre.com) is provided.

  1. Lyric (Claudia Muzio)
  2. Spinto (Leontyne Price)
  3. Spinto (Renata Tebaldi)
  4. Spinto (Zinka Milanov)
  5. Lyric (Montserrat Caballé)
  6. Spinto (Antonietta Stella)

Rosalind Plowright defines a spinto voice as one that has a tonal colour one down from its range. For example, a voice with a mezzo's tone colour and the high notes of a soprano, or a voice with a tenor range and a baritone's tone colour, is a spinto. She names Placido Domingo as an instance of the latter. Plowright's generalisation does not hold true for all spinto tenors, however. Giovanni Martinelli, Giacomo Lauri-Volpi and Jussi Bjorling, for instance, sang spinto roles such as Radames with bright-toned voices that lacked any baritonal colouration.

References

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