Voice types in opera often differ to those in musical theatre, using much more vibrato – and are often much louder. This is because of the long history of the form, which was performed before microphones were created, so opera singers had to project over the orchestra without amplification.


Why do opera singers use so much vibrato?

Musical theatre is a comparably newer art form, so its singers are often given microphones to help them to be heard over a loud band or orchestra.

Vibrato has the effect of warming up the voice and helping it carry over a large orchestra and across a concert hall. It shifts the pitch and frequency of a note ever so slightly, but happens so quickly it is barely noticed. As a result, singers can achieve real volume and reach the back of a concert hall with their loud voices.

Vibrato is also used by string and wind instruments.

Which opera singers have the most powerful voices?

All successful opera singers will have voices that can travel well across an auditorium. But, for examples of opera singers with powerful and resonant voices, we would cite the likes of Luciano Pavarotti, Enrico Caruso, Maria Callas, Renee Fleming and Plácido Domingo.

We asked a panel of opera experts to name the greatest tenors of all time, and the greatest sopranos of all time.


The image at the top shows South African soprano Pretty Yende, whom we've profiled as she will be performing at King Charles's Coronation. Pic: Getty Images