Hello everybody. Having seen quite a few contraltos in concert recently, I thought I would post a few lovely voices who are capable of reaching those wonderful tones below F3. All of these lovely ladies have full and powerful lower registers, and it is a pleasure to listen to them. Most of the very low notes are at the end of the videos, but where possible I have put in a time reference for at lease one of the notes in each video. I hope you enjoy them. Oh, and if you know of other videos with ladies hitting notes below F3, why not pop them in a message at the end of this post.
The first video comes courtesy of the great British contralto Dame Clara Butt. The song is The Enchantress, by J. Hatton, and in it she hits a wonderful E3 at 0:52.
Next up we have the Swedish contralto Anna Larsson, singing the role of Daphne's mother, Gaea, in Richard Strauss' opera Daphne. In it she hits an Eb3 a number of times, but a good example is at 2:18.
Giving us a fantastic D3 is American contralto Marian Anderson, singing the song Der Tod und das Mädchen, by F. Schubert. It happens at 2:15.
To guide us by the hand in to the realm of the contralto profundo is the Venetian contralto Sara Mingardo. In an interpolated ornament at the end of "Fac ut Portem" from the Stabat Mater by G Pergolesi, she saunters down to a stunning C#3! The ornament starts at 4:01.
The holy grail has been reached! Swiss contralto Ursula Ferri gives us a rock solid C3 (contralto bottom C) in the song "No,no, non si speri", by Carissimi. It happens at 5:41.
But to take us into the realms of the baritone, we can only rely on the force of nature that is Polish contralto Ewa Podleś. In "Pour Une Femme De Mon Nom" from La Fille Du Régiment, by G. Donizetti, she hits an interolated Bb2: yes, that's right, Bb2, at 0:39. All hail the contralto profundo! But wait, it's not over yet...
Back in the early to mid 1700's, Antonio Vivaldi was in charge of an institution known as the Ospedali Pietà, which housed abandoned and unwanted babies. For those female children that stayed in the Ospedali, those with musical potential could join the Figlie di Choro (musicians), the élite of the Pietà. The chorus was all female, with known contraltos and female tenors, and also female basses, like the famed Anna dal Basso.
In this excerpt from the "Vivaldi's Women - Gloria" DVD, Margaret Jackson-Roberts sings the bass role in the "Gloria Patri" from Vivaldi's Dixit Dominus, in which she sings multpile A2's. A nice long-held A2 comes at 1:23. Margaret states that she can sing "down to F below the [bass] stave ... and ... down to C below the [bass] stave on a good day." Wow! Go Margaret!
I hope you enjoyed this trip into the contralto depths. Until the next time! James.