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J. FAURE PARIS 1886 this book, translated and expanded contains Faure’s original exercises with all the transpositions as indicated by the author.


Copyright Š 2005 Francis Keeping and Roberta Prada. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, except by a newspaper or magazine reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review. Published in 2005 by Vox Mentor LLC. For sales please contact: Vox Mentor LLC. 343 East 30th street, 12M. New York, NY. 10016 phone: 212-684-5485 Email: Website:

Printed in USA.

Awaiting Library of congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

ISBN 10: 0-9777823-0-1

Originally La Voix et le Chant, J. Faure, Paris, 1886, AU Menestrel, 2 bis, Rue Vivienne, Henri Heugel. The present volume is set in Times New Roman 12 point, on 28 lb. bright white acid free paper and wire bound for easy opening on the music stand. Page turns have been avoided wherever possible in the exercises, meaning that there are intentional blank spaces throughout. The cover photo of J. Faure as a younger man is from the collection of Bill Ecker of Harmonie Autographs, New York City. The present authors have faithfully translated the words of Faure, taking care to preserve the original intent of the author making changes only where necessary to assist modern readers. The music was written using Sibelius 3 and 4™ software. Transpositions indicated by the author for the various voice types are written out for the first time.


TO THE READER J. Faure was known, respected and loved by colleagues and public alike. In the mid nineteenth century the lyric art was at its height and Paris was an important center, even as the vocal art was showing signs of crisis. The conservatory system was in disarray, with no agreed upon standards for voice teaching and there was no game plan for improving the situation. Faure, an acknowledged master, cultured and articulate, was asked to overhaul the voice curriculum. This book is the result of his exploration. In the text you will find evidence of Faure’s efforts on the behalf of the art of singing. You will even see evidence of the contention between the voice teachers at the Conservatoire…plus ça change… We first discovered him through his vocal exercises, which we tried, first on ourselves, then on colleagues and students, with astonishing results. With one singer change began literally overnight and over the course of a week a long-standing difficulty in the middle voice, weakest in females, was on the mend. One baritone in mid-career has said, “After doing Faure’s exercises for a week, I became another kind of singer.” The exercises are so precise that if you do not do them correctly, you will know it immediately. They may not come out at all. It can be frustrating to isolate one element, first of all the attack, but it makes for a clear concept of vocal mechanics. Once you master an element, you will grasp the cause and effect of your actions, and you will gain ground quickly. A good attack entails balanced breath and precise diction. For teachers working with beginners, this is about as complete and sensible a method as you can find. If you go through it one step at a time, and do not move on until you have accomplished the proficiencies addressed in a section, the cumulative effect will be enormous. The exercises are graded, and short essays are integral to the approach of each unit. His advice is direct, and straight to the point. His writing style was so clear that we have made only minimal changes in translating. Some essays on diction, being language-based, do not seem to apply to English but we have included them for completeness and because they are in fact relevant to diction in many languages. It is important that the mental and vocal image of a note be fixed by looking at it as you fix it in the ear. For that reason we have added as many transpositions as we could without making the book too long or the notes too small. You will find some blank half pages, necessary to insure that exercises are presented on facing pages so that they are visible all at once wherever possible. A complete set of transpositions for each voice type will be available upon request. We have given you a valuable resource in Faure: thoughtful, concerned man of great culture and discernment, someone who through these pages can become your guide and colleague. Our only regret is that we do not have a time machine so we could spend many delightful hours in his company. The more we read him and tried out his ideas, the more we wish could have known him as a friend.



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TO THE READER DEDICATION, ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS FOREWORD INTRODUCTION CLASSIFICATION OF THE VOICES CHILDREN’S VOICES AVERAGE RANGE OF MEN’S VOICES: Dramatic tenor Lyric tenor Light lyric tenor Lyric Baritone Bass Baritone Basso profundo Falsetto voice AVERAGE RANGE OF WOMEN’S VOICES: High soprano Dramatic soprano Mezzo-soprano Contralto Chest voice MIXED VOICE, DARKENED VOICE, GUTTURAL TIMBRE AND NASALITY TREMBLING AND BLEATING POSITION OF THE HEAD AND BODY BREATHING THE ATTACK MATCHING THE VOCAL SCALE Table for finding the characteristic sound soprano and tenor contralto baritone and bass Exercises on the vowels THE VOCALISE PRONUNCIATION AND ARTICULATION FAULTS OF PRONUNCIATION Exercises and vocalises with words on all the intervals PORTAMENTO SCALES Preparation for major scales Preparation for minor scales Exercises on scales

3 4 7 15 16 18 21 21 22 23 24 24 25 26 27 27 27 27 28 29 30 32 34 35 36 39 40 42 46 51 56 66 67 68 71 133 137 138 144 150


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ARPEGGIOS Agility Exercises THE TRILL OTHER ORNAMENTS IN SINGING Appoggiatura Notes lourées Mordant Stentato Gruppetto COLORATION PITCH MEMORY SUSTAINED, LEGATO SINGING Observations Female chest voice Exercises for crescendo and diminuendo, messa di voce; blending of the chest and head registers'. Examples of sustained, legato singing. RECITATIVO ABOUT FEAR NOTES AND ADVICE FOR YOUNG SINGERS MY MORNING EXERCISES JEAN BAPTISTE FAURE A SHORT BIOGRAPHY NOTES ABOUT THE AUTHORS OF THE AMERICAN EDITION

162 180 188 196 196 197 197 197 198 211 213 214 215 217 218 222 231 235 236 248 286 288


On April 2 of 1870, the following resolution was set forth: IN THE NAME OF THE EMPEROR: The Minister of Arts,……………………….. ……………………………………………… BE IT KNOWN: Article 1 A commission will be instituted to revise the current regulations of the Conservatoire, to research and propose the proper modifications that can be made, notably from the point of view of teaching and in the interest of curriculum. Article 2 The commission will be convened, the Minister of Arts presiding, composed of the following members: Messieurs: Auber; E. Augier; Ed. About; Azevedo; A. de Beauplan; Chaix d’Est-Ange; G. de Charnacé; Oscar Commetant; Félicien David; Camille Doucet; Théophile Gautier; Gevaert; Gounod; Guéroult; Jouvin; Legouvé; Nogent Saint-Laurens; E. Perrin; prince Poniatowski; H. Prévost; Reber; E. Reyer; de Saint-Georges; G. de SaintValry; Albéric Second; Édouard Thierry; Ambroise Thomas; J.-J. Weiss. Article 3 The Counselor of State, secretary general of the Ministry of Beaux-Arts. And the Director of the administrations of theaters will function as Vice-Presidents. ………………………………………………. Paris, April 2, 1870 Signed: Maurice RICHARD Having been invited by the commission to set forth my ideas about how to reform teaching of singing, for reasons of personal convenience I declined the honor that was extended to me; instead I asked two members of the commission if I could develop my project before them. 1 After several meetings, the commission adopted the following resolution On June 18th 1870: Article 4 The students of 2nd, and 3rd year singing (in accordance with M. Reber’s proposal) and all the students of composition will be permitted to attend all singing classes.

In view of such an executive decree, after all that political activity, isn’t it surprising that these resolutions have had no effect whatsoever? All that remains to me to complete this exposition is to appeal to the powers that be that they make every effort to encourage prosperity in the arts. I would be happy if have been able to convince them of the utility of these reforms and to contribute, as far as I am able, to serve the cause of an art which I have practiced since my childhood, and that since then has been the object of my most constant and dearest concerns! J. FAURE


MM. E. Legouvé, E. Perrin.


INTRODUCTION If you would like to sing, it is first necessary to believe‌ Eug. MANUEL

If examining the vocal apparatus could tell us whether a singer is a tenor or a bass, or if it could distinguish between a soprano and a contralto, if it could allow us to identify the qualities which give the voice its particular charm, brilliance, sweetness and inflection, and above all, if it were possible to somehow make use of these observations, the anatomy of the larynx would surely become an indispensable study for people who plan to make singing their career. The Rubinis, the Nourrits, the Duprez and so many other great artists had only the vaguest notions of vocal formation that were part of their time and they have however never been surpassed as singers. We cannot name any singer who excelled at these special anatomical studies, so we can justifiably conclude that such knowledge has absolutely no influence over the art of directing the voice. I refer to those doctors, and the artists themselves who have been seduced into such study, and who have made the larynx and the voice the object of their research. There is a primary question we must address for those who wish to have a career in opera. Is a great voice indispensable for success in Opera? There is no doubt about it. Many singers who have had to compete against those endowed with greater brilliance and vocal volume have nonetheless surpassed them through charm, sweetness and expressivity. A great voice then, is not necessary for the stage. Above all the student must have a real vocation and an aptitude for serious study. Well-directed, methodical work will invariably bring about the progressive development of the organ. With people who want to sing as a hobby, one can demand less in terms of vocal work. Effects of sweetness have always been the most appreciated in the salon. The smallest voice is enough when it is well schooled. However, when it comes to musicality and a good ear, one must always maintain strict standards. In the first part of this treatise, I give great importance to vocal study. The full liberty to express and give form to thought with style, nuance, and sentiment, depends entirely upon the flexibility of the voice and gaining its complete automatic control. The art of singing, unlike science, does not continually enrich itself through fresh discoveries. Men eminently competent to carry out such studies have already stated everything there is to know about singing. However I still feel it necessary to clarify certain technical definitions by entering into the most profound detail. I have taken on this task as a way of satisfying students who can never find enough information in achieving their goals. It is for their benefit that I have set down my observations concerning myself and others. The second part of this text is devoted to the deeper understanding of singing and its formulas. Within the confines of a book, I can only teach students an analytical method that permits them to interpret the music of the masters correctly. Since there is no absolute rule for precise sentiment and the delicacy that must be acquired in artistic matters, I have limited myself to pointing out what is offensive to good taste and what is simply not tasteful. A well-marked stamp of personality is only acquired once all these preliminaries have been addressed.


1. VOICE CLASSIFICATION TESSITURA ‌tessitura alone must guide them. The classification of voices must be made according to color and not to extension. One may be in possession of a voice that has a tenor color, even if it cannot rise above an F or G in chest. Someone who can reach a high A may still be a baritone or even a basso cantante. The same applies to sopranos, mezzos, and contraltos, in whom a greater or lesser extension may give rise to doubts as to their classification.1 It is then the timbre, and above all the tessitura, which reveals the real nature of voices. We call tessitura the part of the vocal range where the singer feels most at ease; the same expression also applies to the several notes chosen by the composer to establish the musical phrase, or notes to which he returns to in a piece by often. Through ignorance of their real resources, many students and singers mistakenly assign their voices to a category other than the one nature has assigned them. Even when the tessitura is not in question, a higher key can sometimes be more comfortable if it helps to avoid notes such as the E natural, so difficult to sing in all voices. The following two examples are easier to sing a half tone higher to avoid having to repeat the dreaded E natural. To understand a role or a piece, some are satisfied to leaf through the score and if they do not see any notes that are extremely high or low for their voice, they conclude that the piece must be easy to sing. This is a grave error because it fails to take into account the tessitura, which may make the piece completely inaccessible to them.2 Others, often out of ambition or unlimited confidence in their lung power, throw themselves into the conquest of a role which they will soon be forced to abandon. How can we expect that students not be tempted to soar like voices that are higher than their own, when the dubious undertakings of some experienced artists serve as dreadful examples of these dangerous encroachments? At the OpÊra we have heard the tenor role of Licinius sung by a basso cantante, who the day before interpreted the basso profundo role of Marcel in Les Huguenots.3 We have for several years now heard the tenor roles of grand opera reprised by an artist of incontestable merit, an excellent musician with a voice of exceptional extension, who can alter the true color of his voice. For this reason we always hear him struggling with a tessitura too high to allow his best qualities as a singer to be appreciated.4 It is very difficult to return safe and sound from these attempts at scaling the heights. Continually stretching, the voice creates excessive tension. When the artist or foolhardy student wishes to turn back,


There is no risk in classifying male students as baritones, or females as mezzos. Working the medium low part of the voice carries absolutely no risk to the organ. 2 three or four eccentric low E flats or low C found in the role of Bertram do not place it in the lowest roles in the repertoire, on the contrary, the role is too high for a basso profundo 3 Merly. 4 MariĂŠ

9 he must deal with a middle voice thrown out of balance. He will like as not have brought the dreaded bleat upon himself as an inevitable cosequence of the strains he has imposed on his voice. Young people destined for a career in singing must not allow themselves to be dazzled by the notes at the extremes of the range which are of negligible importance. Tessitura alone must guide them. The difficulties of too high a tessitura cannot always be resolved by transposition. By lowering a piece as little as a half step, the top part can become accessible to the voice but often it can also make the lower part of the piece all but impossible to sing. Even when the tessitura is not in question, a higher key can sometimes be more comfortable if it helps to avoid notes such as the E natural, so difficult to sing in all voices. The following two examples are easier to sing a half tone higher to avoid having to repeat the dreaded E natural. All teachers agree on one point at least, that it is easier to stretch the upper extension of a voice than it is to extend the lower. With willpower and a certain amount of physical energy, one can attain some high notes that pass the natural extension of the voice. Willpower and energy are no help whatsoever in the production of low notes, which can only be obtained through calm and opening of the throat.

Pushing ten or twenty times on a high note will not give the student definitive possession of that note. It is with greatest caution and almost imperceptibly that any acquisitions of range must be made. The tessitura itself can, through constant and judicious exercise, be displaced half a tone higher or half a tone lower, but rarely more. In classifying the voices of men, women, and children, I will omit the numerous intermediate voices, and concern myself only with the principal classifications. However I must mention one type of baritone, for which Italian masters, particularly Verdi, have written much. This voice is higher than the old barytons, and lends itself better to expressive singing, thanks to its origins in the tenor voice. It occupies a considerable place in the modern repertoire. 1


Frequently asked to sing the Verdi baritone roles, I have believed it better to resist the temptation to enrich my repertoire with many magnificent roles, which I would have been happy to interpret, had they been written in a tessitura that my vocal means would permit me to attempt.


3. THE AVERAGE RANGE OF MEN’S VOICES I have chosen to leave out the old voice types such as Taille, Haut-Contre, Concordant, BasseContre, Bas-Dessus, etc, and confine myself to categories currently in use, though even these terms can give rise to certain misunderstandings.


Those who are called Dramatic Tenor have extremely loud voices. These used to be called Tenore Serio, or Tenore di Forza, personified by such singers as Nozzari, the Crivellis, the Donzellis and the Reina family. Their extension rarely goes beyond the B-flat above the staff. The sound of this voice has a particularly virile character, adapted to such roles as Otello (Rossini), Pollione in Norma, Bravo in Mercadante’s Vestale, Spontini’s Vestale, Donizetti’s Gemma de Vergy and Maria Padilla and Max in Freischütz. The difficulty in finding dramatic tenors in France is explained by the expectations of the public. After the appearance of the great Duprez, little by little the audience became convinced that in order to fill the roles currently in vogue on our lyric stage, such as: William Tell, Robert le diable, La juive, and Les huguenots, the voice of a singer needed to combine the extreme high extension of an haute-contre and the fullness of a baryton. It is easy to correct this misconception, if we recall that the voice of Adolphe Nourrit, eminent creator of these divergent roles, had a timbre that is closer to a light tenor (haut-contre) than to that of a dramatic tenor (Fort ténor). The sleep (Sommeil) aria of La muette (Auber), the roles of Comte Ory and Le philtre (Auber), which Nourrit sang with equal success, require suppleness, a lightness that is incompatible with the kind of volume that is expected of a dramatic tenor nowadays. This error on the part of the public is all the more lamentable; although some of our tenors can carry the volume of their middle voice to the top of their chest register, most of them do so at the risk of complete vocal ruin.



Observe that there is no difference in extension, between the lyric (leading) tenor and the dramatic tenor. I define the leading tenor as one whose voice, regardless of volume, can attain the high notes with enough facility to give the public the kind of security that a dramatic tenor can rarely offer. Certain trials can fulfill this first condition; I must stress, using theater jargon, that in the noble or pathetic roles that are their natural province, the voice of the first tenor is best for the job. (Physique de l’emploi). Our French public, for the satisfaction of hearing two or three huge sounds pitifully wrenched out, has deprived itself of hearing a homogeneous and complete interpretation of tenor roles as the composer has understood and taught them. Our more prudent neighbors, the Italians, Germans, English, and Spanish are just as susceptible as we are, and often even more in love with the effects of sound. Without fixating on the size of the sound, (capacité du tube vocal). they accept both in their repertoire and ours, any tenor with a voice that possesses the extension and character called for by the roles. They are quite astonished to find that we have tenors who specialize in translations, and that the roles in Lucie (Lucia) and La favorite (La favorita) that were written for Duprez, are today disdained by dramatic tenors, and wind up as the province of tenors of demi-caractère (half way between dramatic and lyric tenor, the modern spinto). Some eccentric sounds on one or two notes, C and C sharp, do not make dramatic tenors out of artists whose voices have the volume of first tenors (lyric, primo uomo). The following is a list of tenors who possess the most diverse qualities, and vocal means that are quite opposite from one another. They cannot be associated with a single vocal type: Nourrit Giuglini Roger Tamberlick Mongini Wachtel

Gardoni Masini Moriani Gayarré Basadonna Collin

Mario Poultier Espinasse Sim Reeves Villaret Baucardé

Lafond Guasco Talazac Nicolini Mirate Graziani the elder

The chest voice of a lyric tenor, generally weak in the low register, does not begin to find its brilliance until it ascends to C; when descending from its top range, it comes to full power in the neighborhood of E, or F or F sharp. This color change is difficult to locate more precisely. Color changes will occur at higher or lower pitch, depending on the volume of the sound, without exception. (See the section on the Darkened Voice).

12 The head voice or falsetto of the first tenor begins to be useable from A flat or A natural, usually extending as far as C or D.1

To facilitate the union of the two registers, the head voice can be employed from G or even F sharp, depending on the nature of the voice, and upon the construction of the musical phrase.


Is there a noticeable difference between the first tenor of the Opéra Comique and that of the Opéra? Once upon a time, yes. However, current changes at the Opéra Comique have given rise to a new type of tenor, closer to the lyric tenor in opera. This same voice can interpret both types of repertoire, without causing too much of a stir. These two voices have become so similar that the directors of the Opéra and the Opéra Comique frequently compete in Conservatoire contests to hire the same person, equally apt for employment in either of the two theaters. The Opéra Comique roles written for Roger, regarded as the creator of the genre, can just as well be sung by first tenors of the Opéra. We can now see that there is no reason why we could not add those tenors of the Opéra Comique who are capable of assuming the roles of Roger, to the list of first tenors at the Opéra, fort tenor or not. In light lyric tenors, of which Ponchard remains the most complete personification, the difference is a great deal more defined. The chest voice in a true light tenor has a marked tendency to thin out at the top of its range, where it blends gradually with the falsetto; it has almost none of the virile character of other tenors.2 It is more suited to the expression of delicate and tender sentiments and possesses the spontaneity indispensable to syllabic declamation and agility (chant d’agilité et d’exécution). Thanks to the intimate quality of the timbre and its inflection (accent), it is well suited to semi-serious (semi-serio) as well as comic roles. Like the tenor of the opéra comique who is called upon to assume the role of the operatic lyric tenor, light tenors can easily interpret the roles of Comte Ory; Lèopold in La juive; or Raimbaud, in Robert le diable. 1


In the final aria of I Puritani, Rubini sang an extraordinarily powerful high F. It is not rare among these tenors to encounter low notes that are stronger than those of the leading tenors of opera.

13 It seems unnecessary to mention, among the voices properly designated as tenors, those of which the (barytenor) voice of Chollet is quite a rare specimen, standing between baritone and light tenor, closer to the former in tessitura and closer to the latter in its great facility for emitting sounds in falsetto. As for the smaller-voiced second tenor of opéra comique, aside from unclassifiable voices such as that of Laruette, we can best consider this a small light tenor. Through work and experience this voice can fill in for a light tenor in some roles, while at the same time preserving its true nature.


The so-called Verdi baritone

We have only to glance at Ernani, Nabucco, Macbeth, I due Foscari, Rigoletto, Il trovatore, roles created by Giorgio Ronconi, to realize that there is a difference between this baritone and the type of baritone for whom William Tell, La muette (Auber), Semiramide, Le siége de Corinthe, etc., and I would add La favorite, Charles VI, La Reine de Chypre and Don Sébastien were written. Even though the creator of these last four roles would now pass for a high baritone, he would have found it impossible to take on the Verdi roles mentioned above. Nevertheless we should not confuse these high baritone voices with those of the baryton martin. Even though their extension is almost the same in the high register, the way that composers use them makes the difference between the two voices clear. With the modern baritone, all the effects are produced on high notes, C, D, E, F and G, most often with force, expressing the more violent emotions. These are singers di slancio. [Note: refers to dramatic accent, not dramatic voice. Trans.]. The martin, on the other hand, is better favored by a more discreet orchestration that favors the head voice that has been developed through study. The martin is a singer of grace and agility. A tenor, by avoiding the several low notes that make the exceptional voice of a martin shine, could easily sing in chest voice those notes which a martin would sing more often in head voice. [Note: The baryton Martin is a voice category named for M. Martin. Trans.]



The voice of the lyric bass, (basso cantante), also known as bass-baritone, is along with the short tenor, the voice most frequently found in men. The basse chantante has been abandoned in favor of the high baritone (in reality a variety of short tenor) in the roles of modern grand opera. We could say that what was lost on one hand has been gained on the other as composers abandoned the basso profundo voice in favor of the (modern) bassbaritone. The basso cantante also has its types and subtypes too numerous to discuss here, even if all of them were still used. I will limit myself to the principal type in French opera, and mention only the role of Max in Chalet (Adam), which best exemplifies its character, extension, and tessitura, as well as those roles created by Hermann-Léon and Charles Battaille, notwithstanding the several low notes that are encountered in the repertoire of this last singer. This voice has the advantage over Verdi baritones of serving as the fundamental bass voice in trios, quartets, and ensemble pieces. Bass-baritones (should be) distinguished above all by their aptitude for virtuosity and agility. Rossini and the other Italian masters of his time made excellent use of those qualities, in both buffo and dramatic settings. Note: These bravura roles were always written for specific singers. Not every bass baritone today is able to fulfill the requirements of florid singing.

Before the arrival of Baroilhet at the Opéra, the only singers we knew as baritones were those today known as basso cantante (bass-baritone). The baritones who took the role of William Tell, of Pietro in La muette di Portici, or Don Juan, would be cast today as Méphistophélès rather than as Valentin in Faust.


This lowest of all the male voices is rarely complete. While the sonority of the middle vo ice blends well with the lowest register, profundos have difficulty rising above C or D and their voices are stiff and less malleable. 1 1

This heavy placidity and the sonorous quality of the true basso profundo make them well suited to the long phrases of liturgical music and more at home in the church than in the theatre.

15 When, on the contrary, these notes are exceptional in the basso profundo, the quality of the rest of the voice is closer to that of the basso cantante, and they even sometimes have the same extension. Even if Charles Battaille ended the aria from Étoile du nord with a low B-flat, it does not follow that the role of Pierre is precisely that of a basso profundo; the tessitura of the romance is that of a basso cantante. The same is true of roles written for Levasseur, who was a basso cantante with exceptional low notes. I have already dealt with tessitura in the article on classification of the voice in relation to dramatic and lyric tenors. You already know my feelings on this point. It is principally in the northern countries, Germany and Russia, where one finds the deepest basso profundo voices, and it is also the German composers who have made most use of this voice. They are rarer in Italy, where these low sounds are not much appreciated.

FALSETTO (VOIX DE FAUSSET) When the singer has reached the upper limit of the chest voice and wants to sing higher, he soon finds another register, less sonorous, with an almost childlike sound, which we call falsetto, also known as head voice. When this register is well employed it can render the greatest service to tenors in general, and more especially to baritones of comic opera in the roles of the old repertoire. I would advise bassos not to spend much time perfecting it, nor to make use of it. Even though basso profundos can often can make head voice sounds as easily as tenors and baritones, it is useless for them to work on it as it has no application in their repertoire. The modifications that many tenors use to extend the range of the head voice explain why this voice has been so discredited. Most of them, believing that it will better match the chest voice, enlarge it in an exaggerated fashion by over emphasizing the “ou� vowel. By imposing the tint of this syllable artificially on words in order to achieve a unified color, they remove every bit of clarity from their pronunciation, and deprive the head voice of its ability to vary timbres and with it the ability to vary expression. It is impossible to indicate to student tenors and baritones, the precise note on which the transition from one register to the other should be made. That depends on the nature and the extension of the voice, and will also vary according to the sense of the words and the shape of the musical phrase. When nature is allowed to take its course, a register change is produced in men and women on exactly the same notes, which is to say on E, and from F to F sharp, or from F sharp to G, with the difference of an octave. The tenors and baritones can therefore use the exercises written for sopranos for the union of the chest and head registers.




As you see above, the extension of the high soprano and dramatic soprano are nearly the same. The difference lies in the greater facility of the high soprano to pronounce words on high notes and to attack without effort. Leaving volume aside, timbre and character determine the nature of these voices, essentially variations of the same type.

MEZZO-SOPRANO It is sometimes similar to dramatic soprano, sometimes to contralto,

This voice, which serves as a transition between soprano and contralto is, with the baritone, the one most commonly found. Its tessitura differs from that of the dramatic soprano, although it often has the same extension. When the medium low part of the voice (middle C to F) is sung in falsetto it has more strength and brilliance than that of the contralto, and the high notes have more spontaneity. However, it has neither the power nor the masculine character of the contralto in the chest register.


CONTRALTO (The rarest voice)

The voice of the contralto is closest to those of men in color, and sometimes also has a similar dramatic thrust and energy; in this case it lends itself admirably to the dramatic genre. It has been utilized more in Italy than in France, where it is often confused with the voice of the low mezzo. [Note: Ulrica and Azucena are not contralto roles.because of tessitura. Trans.] The true contralto voice cannot take on the roles of modern French opera without considerable danger: in operas such as: La favorite, La Reine de Chypre, Le prophète, the tessitura varies from one act to another, and very often even within the same aria. Such shifts are foreign to the nature of the contralto voice. This voice, despite its volume, possesses nonetheless a special facility for vocalization. Note: as with all voice types there are lyric, dramatic and coloratura contraltos.

In all female voices, there is a change in color between E natural and F,

which for many voice teachers, proves the existence of two distinct registers, the second being a register of mixed voice, from G to D,

and a head register from D to high D natural,

up to the highest notes of the vocal range. This change in color, recognizable to a practiced listener, is produced in women unwittingly, and cannot be compared to that which exists between the chest and the falsetto or head voice in men.

18 I see no reason to make such a fuss over this change of color, or to give it another name. I discuss this at greater length in the section on mixed voice. In principle I am of the opinion that one must avoid calling attention to this difference in color to students; they are sometimes a lot happier if they remain unaware of its existence. It can cause trouble to unnecessarily underline it.

THE CHEST VOICE IN WOMEN One cannot deny the penetrating effects that women create when they use chest register. Though not identical, the chest voice in women is comparable to the sound of a boy contralto. The most effective procedure for discovering this register in those sopranos, who are not aware of their chest register, is imitation. No physiological definition will obtain the same results. It is by trying to imitate the voice of young boys, or that of contraltos, that sopranos will find their chest register and assimilate it most rapidly. Singing methods generally agree that the chest voice should be used from C to F or even G.

Some teachers even encourage its use as high as B natural or C. For myself, I do not like to see them bring it higher than an F natural, since the union of the chest voice to the head voice is much more easily accomplished when that passage is effected lower down in the voice. The longer you make the extension of chest, the more difficult it becomes to bridge the precipice that separates the two registers. [Note: pitch was generally lower then. Now we would say that the chest voice should not go above F and more often E and then only for a specific dramatic effect. Trans.] In the first months of study it is wise to forbid sopranos the use of chest voice in their exercises. With those privileged voices in which the union operates imperceptibly to the ear, it is understood that these recommendations do not apply. When nature has done everything it is not only useless but unwise to wish to add anything. In order to effect an easy and secure passaggio from head voice to chest, students must train themselves to carry the head voice to the first note of chest and even lower in their vocal exercises.

The chest voice must always be used with the greatest care. It is a double-edged sword, as dangerous as it is difficult to manage. The use of the high notes in chest disturbs the union of the registers, interferes with the homogeneity and balance of the voice, little by little destroying its charm and purity. If not stopped in time, this abuse will lead to the ruin of the voice.1 [Note: confusion in the understanding of the chest voice may be the reason for its having been avoided at all costs by certain artists and teachers. Trans.] 1

One of our loveliest singers, who has so brilliantly occupied the first rank of one of our principal opera houses, drunk with the success that the uses of her chest voice has assured, has greatly cut short her theatrical career by carelessly using it beyond its natural limits.


EXERCISES ON THE VOWELS On a sustained sound












JEAN BAPTISTE FAURE; A SHORT BIOGRAPHY JEAN-BAPTISTE FAURE (MOULINS 1830 – PARIS 1914) Faure was the most important French baritone of his day, an indispensable Don Juan in the Salle Pelletier, a newer theater than the Palais Garnier, and the star of the Paris Opéra. He had the authentic bel canto sound and a complete technique that stood the test of time. The wisdom with which he selected his roles allowed him great vocal longevity. In La Voix et le Chant, he expounds on the principles of his teacher Louis-Antione-Eléonore Ponchard, one of the finest Rossini singers in France. At 25 years of age, he debuted at the Opéra-Comique in Galthée of Victor Masse, and remained on its roster for the length of his long and distinguished career. From 1861 – 1878 he was the leading baritone at the Paris Opera where he sang Alphonse (La favorite), Guillaume Tell, Pharaon (Moisée). There he created Nelusko (L’Africaine), Posa (Don Carlos), Hamlet and in 1869, Méphisto in the definitive version of Faust. He taught privately and at the Conservatoire. He is the author of numerous songs and in his treatise on singing he adapts the principles of bel canto technique to modern musical requirements. Adapted from an article by Michel Hart, Le Journal de l’AFPC, No 10, Septembre, 2003, with his kind permission.

Additional information is in part from Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, New York and London 1906.

FAURE, JEAN-BAPTISTE, son of a singer in the church at Moulins where he was born on January 15, 1830. When he was three the family moved to Paris, and when he was seven his father died. In 1843 he entered the solfeggio class in the Conservatoire, and soon after the maîtrise of the Madeleine, where he studied under Trévaux, an excellent teacher, to whom he owes his sound knowledge of music. When his voice broke he took up the piano and double bass, and was for some time a member of the band at the Odéon theatre. When his voice had recovered he joined the chorus of the Théâtre Italien, and in Nov. 1850 again entered the Conservatoire, in 1852 obtaining the first prizes for singing and opéra-comique. He made his debut Oct. 20, 1852, at the Opéra Comique, in Masse's Galathée, then advancing steadily through various roles until his creation of the parts of Justin in Grisar's Chien du jardinier; the Duke of Greenwich in Auber's Jenny Bell, in 1855; the Marquis d'Hérigny in Auber’s Manon Lescaut; the Marquis de Valbreuse in Clapisson's Sylphe1 in 1856; Crevecoeur in Gevaert's Quentin Durward in 1858. With Hoël in Meyerbeer's Pardon du Ploërmel in 1859 he rose to the first rank. Among his greatest successes were the parts of Malipiero in Haydée; Peter the Great in L’Étoile du nord; and the title role in Nicolo's Joconde. On Sept. 28, 1861, he made his first appearance at the Opéra as Julien de Medicis in Poniatowski's Pierre de Medicis, and remained there as principal baritone for nearly seventeen years. His new parts were in Masse’s La mule de Pedro, in 1863; Nelusko in L’Africaine, April 26, 1865, chosen for this part by Meyerbeer himself; the Marquis de Posa in Verdi’s Don Carlos, in 1867; the title part in Thomas's Hamlet, 1868; Mephistopheles on the first performance of Faust at the Opéra, March 3, 1869; Paddock in Diaz's Coupe du Roi de Thule, and Charles VII. in Mermet's Jeanne d'Arc, in 1873. He made his final appearance there on May 13, 1876, in his great part Hamlet, in which his acting was founded on his boyish recollections of Macready in that part in Paris. (Musical World.) 1

First produced at Baden Baden. Faure achieved a notable tour de force therein, singing baritone on the stage and tenor behind the scenes.

31 In London he first appeared at Covent Garden, April 10, 1860, as Hoël, and returned there every season until 1866, excepting 1865. His parts included Don Juan, Figaro in Le Nozze, Tell, Assur, Fernando in La gazza ladra, Alfonso XI, Pietro in Masaniello, Rudolph in Sonnambula, St. Bris, Peter the Great, and, on July 2, 1863, Mephistopheles in a production of Faust, which he created, and in which he has never been surpassed. In 1870 he played, at Drury Lane, Iago in the revival of Rossini’s Otello; Lotario in the English production of Mignon and in other works. From 1871 to 1875 inclusive he was again at Covent Garden, for the first time there as Hamlet, Caspar, and the Cacique in the production of Gomez's Guarany. In 1876 he sang at Drury Lane; and in 1877 at Her Majesty's theater for the first time in England as De Nevers, and Alfonso in Lucrezia, which part he played, May 19, 1877, on the occasion of the last appearance on the stage of Mme. Therese Titiens. In 1857 he was for a short time Professor of singing at the Paris Conservatoire. In 1870-72 he sang with great success in opera at Brussels, and on Jan. 27, 1872, was appointed Inspector of the singing classes at the Conservatoire there and in France. In 1861 he appeared at Berlin at Meyerbeer's request, but the vibrato in his voice did not please the Germans. In1878, however, he sang in Italian at Vienna with the greatest success in two of his best parts, Don Juan and Mephistopheles among other roles, and was appointed by the Emperor of Austria Imperial Chamber Singer. He also toured the French provinces in concert. Faure was a good musician and a fine actor. He was also an art collector and a man of great culture. He owned sixty-eight paintings by Edouard Manet and he patronized Alfred Sisley’s trip to Great Britain in 1874 from which he acquired six canvasses. His voice was a baritone of great extent and of very fine quality. In 1859 he married Mademoiselle Lefebvre (1828-1905), the leading interpreter of Dugazon rôles at the Opéra Comique. He composed two books of songs (Heugel), and the present Treatise on Singing. He was decorated with the Legion of Honor, in a ceremony together with his dear friend Manet, whose paintings he collected in great number. He was nominated for this honor by his friend, M. Antonin Proust, one time Minister of Arts, to whom this volume is dedicated.



Francis Keeping Baritone Francis Keeping, a musician, writer and illustrator, moved to New York in 2000 after a twentyyear stay in Italy and the UK where he performed in opera and recital in the principal theaters of Europe. He teaches voice in New York and in Italy, and is a principal in Vox Mentor LLC and Vocalimages, the latter a non-profit corporation fostering music in education. He has recorded several albums for international recording companies with his repertoire spanning most genres from the sixteenth century religious works to contemporary. Future recording projects include nineteenth century Italian, French and English art songs. In 2003 he made his Broadway debut not as a singer but as an artist when he designed the graphic art elements including the stage curtain seen in the Broadway hit musical, Wicked. As a writer he has co- authored The ear and the voice with Roberta Prada, a translation and adaptation of the work of Dr. A. A. Tomatis and the first English version of J.B. Faure’s The voice and singing Imminent projects include overseeing both the musical and illustrative aspects of a new children’s book by Stephen Josephs and an illustrated book on characters from the world of opera.

Roberta Prada Roberta Prada, contralto, studied in Buenos Aires at Teatro Colon’s Instituto Superior de Arte and began her career there. She has sung in Europe, the UK, South and North America in leading roles in opera, concert and recital. Her repertoire includes French and Italian 19 th Century works, baroque masters, and other rarities. Prada lives in New York and is president of Vocalimages Inc., a 501 C (3) entity producing a documentary on vocal longevity and Vox Mentor LLC, a company devoted to projects aimed at the furtherance of excellence in the performing arts, especially classical singing. She is author with Francis Keeping and Pierre Sollier, of the English adaptation of The Ear and the Voice by Alfred A. Tomatis, Scarecrow Press, 2004, and translator of J.B. Faure’s The voice and singing with Francis Keeping. She is a graduate of Wellesley College, and is trained in Neurolinguistic Programming, and in the work of Dr. Tomatis. She presently offers Tomatis-based programs for diction training, public speaking, and accelerated language training. More can be found about this book and other related topics on the Vocalimages website at and also on

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