Jun 25 / Molly McLinden

15 Roles for Sopranos in Musical Theater

It's pretty clear that most modern Broadway shows favor the belter! A pop or rock or belt-y sound is prevalent, and has been for a while.  

It's no wonder that a lot of the older, "golden age" musicals are now done at opera houses...the style of singing (known as "legit" style, or predominantly head voice) has gone the way of the dinosaur...or has it?

Even though MOST roles in musical theater nowadays favor the pop belter, fear not, sopranos!

If you've got high notes and aren't afraid to use 'em, read on! I have compiled a list of 15 soprano roles in musical theater (no belting required!) that are STILL part of today's repertoire.  I left out some roles like Galinda in Wicked , for example, because no one can currently perform that in schools or regional theaters due to rights.  Like this list? See music you want to work on? Excellent! Let's sing together! 

Julie Jordan- Carousel

A golden age musical that still gets revived on Broadway (often!) and is performed in regional theaters, community theaters, schools, etc.  Barbara Cook was the original Julie, and the lovely Shirley Jones portrayed her beautifully on the silver screen. More recently, the very versatile Jessie Mueller played Julie. Who knew her legit voice was as awesome as her belt voice????

Miss Honey- Matilda

The lovable Miss Honey has a wonderful song  that is a touching moment in the show, "This Little Girl". She's a great ingenue soprano role for an actress that has a little bit of fire!

Marian Paroo- The Music Man

Although a belter (Sutton Foster) recently played Marian on Broadway (they transposed the keys to suit her voice), in my humble opinion, Marian is best when sung by a true soprano!
Another Barbara Cook role (look her up if you don't know her!), she has not one but THREE gorgeous solos in the show!

Grace Farrell- Annie

Grace may not have a big solo number, but she is definitely prominently featured in big ensemble numbers as a soloist- and she doesn't belt, 'cause the score has her singing fairly high!
Perfect role for a younger soprano who can also dance well!

Ella-Cinderella (Rodgers and Hammerstein )
Although you CAN get away with making her sound a little more pop (they sure did in some of the recent revivals!) , again, it's not necessary to do that if your voice is..well...just a bit more classic and legit!  To tell the truth this is a very singer friendly role, and would suit a huge array of voices. Sopranos included, of course!
Buuuut...like I said, no belting required, and it's mostly mid-voice. 

Cosette- Les Miserables
Cosette has to have a true soprano voice, her music sits quite high!Fortunately most productions adhere to this, I can't see how it would even be possible to belt her music! "In my Life" is her solo.

Christine Daae- The Phantom of the Opera

Oh, how badly I wanted to play her (spoiler alert, it didn't happen but I know two incredible performers that DID!) This role is best for an ingenue with very easy notes above the staff and a lighter vocal weight. I'll always looove Phantom! 

Carlotta Guidicelli- The Phantom of the Opera
Now this role is juicy! A TRUE diva! This is perfect for a soprano with major comedic skills as well. Carlotta's gotta be EXTRA!

Laurey- Oklahoma!

Classic soprano role. Fortunately, Oklahoma! shows no signs of ever NOT being popular and frequently performed. She has many excellent solos and is a very rewarding role indeed!  

Cinderella- Into the Woods

Cinderellas tend to be...sopranos! Well, at least in musical theater. In opera "Cenerentola" and "Cendrillon" are mezzos, but I digress. Anyway, Sondheim has a fantastic role for you sopranos that can ACT.  Music is a bit tough to learn ("On the Steps of the Palace is no joke, yikes!), but soooo fantastic. Because, Sondheim.

Mary Poppins- Mary Poppins
Have to have a Disney one in here! This show has been performed a LOT, and Mary is such a fun , iconic role!

Mother Abbess- The Sound of Music

Mother Abbess has one of the best songs in the show, and that is saying a lot since this is The Sound of Music we're talking about here!  This role is rarely done by anyone under 35, this role should be played by more mature singers and required serious chops.Classical singers doing crossover are perfect for this role. 

Eliza Doolittle- My Fair Lady

What a gift Eliza is musically and dramatically! TONS of solos, from comedic to ballad .  How's your Cockney accent, hmm?

Johanna- Sweeney Todd
This is another soprano musical theater role that is perfect for a classically trained ingenue.  "Green Finch and Linnet Bird" is a difficult song, but absolutely gorgeous!  You will need a very agile upper range and strong trill.  So yeah.NOT for a belter. 

Amalia Balash - She Loves Me
Another fabulous role originally played by one of Broadway's finest ingenues, Ms. Barbara Cook! More recently, she has been sung beautifully by Broadway sopranos such as Laura Benanti.

There you have it, singers! 15 fantastic musical theater roles just for sopranos. 

If you want a list of wonderful Broadway sopranos to listen to from yesteryear AND now, here it is:  Barbara Cook, Julie Andrews, Audra McDonald, Laura Benanti, Rebecca Luker, Sierra Boggess, Kelli O'Hara, Marin Mazzie, Philippa Soo, Laura Osnes,  Jessie Mueller, and  Kristin Chenoweth, 

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