In music, a soprano is a singer with a voice ranging approximately from middle C to the A a thirteenth above middle C (above the treble clef). In four part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, and will usually take the melody.

The word "soprano" generally refers to a female singer of this highest vocal range and to her voice. Boy singers whose voices have not changed are known either as "boy sopranos" or, in the Anglican and English Catholic traditions, as trebles. Some adult male singers use a special technique without using falsetto in order to sing in this high range, and they are known as sopranistas.

More generally, a soprano is the highest member of a group of similar instruments (for example, the soprano saxophone).

In opera, the character and timbre of soprano voices are often categorized according to the German Fach system. The soprano Facher, with examples of respective roles, are:

  • Leggero (or soubrette)
    • Adele (Die Fledermaus)
    • Ännchen (Der Freischütz
    • Despina (Così fan tutte)
    • Marzellina (Fidelio)
    • Musetta (La Bohème)
    • Nannetta (Falstaff)
    • Susanna (La Nozze de Figaro)
    • Zerlina (Don Giovanni)

  • Coloratura
    • Blondchen (Die Ertfübrung aus dem Serail)
    • Gilda (Rigoletto)
    • Norina (Don Pasquale)
    • Olympia (Hoffmanns Erzählungen)
    • Rosina (Barbiere de Sevilla)
    • Sofie (Der Rosenkavalier)
    • Zerbinette (Ariadne auf Naxos)
    • Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi)
    • Oskar (Un Ballo en Maschera)

  • Dramatic Coloratura
    • Konstanza (Die Ehtführung aus dem Serail)
    • Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte)
    • Contesa (Figaro)
    • Königin (Die Zauberflöte)
    • Rosalinda (Die Fledermaus)
    • Violetta (La Traviata)
    • Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni)
    • Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor)
    • Margarethe (Faust)

  • Full Lyric Soprano
    • Mimi (La Bohème)
    • Pamina (Die Zauberflöte)
    • Michael (Carmen)
    • Liù (Turandot)

  • Spinto Soprano
    • Agathe (Die Freischütz)
    • Donna Anna (Don Giovanni)
    • Elsa (Lohengrin)
    • Desdemona (Othello)
    • Leonora (Il Trovatore)
    • Tatajana (Eugen Onegin)
    • Rezia (Oberon)
    • Elizabeth (Tannhauser)

  • Dramatic soprano
    • Aida
    • Elisabeth (Don Carlos)
    • Leonora (Fidelio)
    • Donna Anna (Don Giovanni)
    • Leonore (La Forza del Destino)
    • Tosca
    • Sieglinde (Die Walküre)
    • Ariadne (Ariadne auf Naxos)
    • Santuzza (Cavalleria Rusticana)
    • Butterfly (Madama Butterfly)
    • Amelia (Un Ballo en Maschera))
    • Norma

  • Wagnerian soprano
    • Senta (Der fliegenden Hollander)
    • Elektra
    • Brünnhilde (Die Walküre, Die Gotterdämmerung, Siegfried)
    • Isolde (Tristan und Isolde)
    • Turandot

Historically women were not allowed to sing in the Church, so the soprano roles were given to young boys, and later to castrati, who were men whose larynxes had been fixed in a pre-adolescent state through the process of castration.

Famous sopranos have often caused opera enthusiasts to divide into opposing "clubs" supporting one singer over another. The rivalry between the respective fans of Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi, for example, was one of the most famous of all opera (see anecdotes in La Tosca article).

Some famous or well known sopranos include:

See also: