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The German Fach system (German pronunciation: [fax]; literally "compartment" or "subject of study", here in the sense of "vocal specialization") is a method of classifying singers, primarily opera singers, according to the range, weight, and color of their voices. It is used worldwide, but primarily in Europe, especially in German-speaking countries and by repertory opera houses.

The Fach system is a convenience for singers and opera houses. It prevents a singer from being asked to sing roles which they are incapable of performing. Opera companies keep lists of available singers by Fach so that when they are casting roles for an upcoming production, they do not inadvertently contact performers who would be inappropriate for the part.

Below is a list of Fächer (German pronunciation: [ˈfɛçɐ]), their ranges as written on sheet music, and roles generally considered appropriate to each. When two names for the Fach are given, the first is in more common use today. Where possible, an English and/or Italian equivalent of each Fach is listed; however, not all Fächer have ready English or Italian equivalents. Note that some roles can be sung by more than one Fach and that many singers do not easily fit into a Fach: for instance some sopranos may sing both Koloratursopran and Dramatischer Koloratursopran roles. In addition, roles traditionally more difficult to cast may be given to a voice other than the traditional Fach. For instance, the "Queen of the Night" is more traditionally a dramatic coloratura role, but it is difficult to find a dramatic coloratura to sing it (particularly given the extreme range). Therefore, the role is often sung by a lyric coloratura.

Soprano Fächer

Lyrischer Koloratursopran / Koloratursoubrette

Dramatischer Koloratursopran

One must not mistake the Mozartian dramatic coloratura soprano with the Italian dramatic coloratura soprano. A singer that sings Konstanze, Donna Anna or Fiordiligi can not necessarily sing the Italian dramatic coloratura parts, due to other vocal demands. Imogene, Leonora and Violetta require a dramatic soprano voice and are most often sung by dramatic sopranos with an agile voice that can easily produce coloratura and high notes. Roles like Norma, Lady Macbeth, Odabella or Abigaille are good examples of Italian roles that are not necessarily a coloratura soprano (even though the score calls for coloratura singing), but a full bodied dramatic soprano with a voice that can handle extreme dramatic singing and that is flexible enough to sing coloratura. Giuseppe Verdi wrote many parts like this in his early years.

Deutsche Soubrette / Charaktersopran

Lyrischer Sopran

Jugendlich dramatischer Sopran

Dramatischer Sopran

Two roles mentioned above, Salome and the Marschallin, are relatively high dramatic sopranos and require that the soprano can endure long stretches of very high tessitura. Richard Strauss himself said that Salome should be sung by someone with the flexibility of a dramatic coloratura due to the high tessitura.

Hochdramatischer Sopran

Mezzo-soprano and Contralto Fächer


Lyrischer Mezzosopran / Spielalt

Dramatischer Mezzosopran

Dramatischer Alt

Tiefer Alt

Tenor Fächer

Spieltenor / Tenor buffo


Lyrischer Tenor

Jugendlicher Heldentenor


Baritone Fächer


Lyrischer Bariton / Spielbariton




Lyrischer Bassbariton/Low lyric baritone

Dramatischer Bassbariton/Low dramatic baritone

Bass Fächer

Basso cantante/Lyric bass-bariton/High lyric bass

Hoher Bass/Dramatic bass-baritone/High dramatic bass

Jugendlicher Bass

Spielbass/Bassbuffo/Lyric buffo

Schwerer Spielbass/Dramatic buffo

Lyrischer seriöser Bass

Dramatischer seriöser Bass



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