7 Songs For Sopranos of This Generation
When you think of some of the greatest musicals of The Golden Age, most were written to showcase sopranos that portrayed the sweet ingénue. Nowadays, composers are creating shows that explore great new characters and implement contemporary folk, rock and/or pop styles of music. Some of the best new songs are incredible showstoppers for mixers and belters, but what about the sopranos of today? Like Laura Benanti once said in an interview with Opera News, “…I do a whole bit about ‘The Soprano Museum.’ I think it’s eventually going to be all belting and pop music, and there’s going to be a hologram of Barbara Cook singing a high C.”
So if you’re a soprano who’s looking for some great new music that highlights the beauty of your upper range and that isn’t just another sweet love song (or that is if that’s what you’re looking for!), check out these 7 songs:
1. “No One Else” from Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812, music and lyrics by Dave Malloy
I found Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812 all too late, having missed the electric Off-Broadway production that incorporated EDM and folk music while featuring the talent of soprano Phillipa Soo. Instead, I’ve been increasing the play count of “No One Else” on my Spotify because every time I hear it, I find something new to obsess over. It’s incredibly soft and haunting at the beginning, while the song’s climax soars on its highest notes.
2. “I’ll Be Here” from Ordinary Days, music and lyrics by Adam Gwon
Another poignant song that takes you all around the emotional and musical scale, “I’ll Be Here” is the perfect song for the soprano that can sell the story. From Betsy Wolfe to Audra McDonald, it’s become a favorite for cabarets as it’s a touching story encapsulated in just four minutes. And in Ordinary Days, where it was originally sung by Lisa Brescia, it is the revealing piece for the character of Claire of her previous and heartbreaking relationship.
3. “The Girl in 14G,” music by Jeanine Tesori and lyrics by Dick Scanlan
“The Girl in 14G” was originally written for Kristen Chenoweth, one of the most popular sopranos of this decade. It’s nice to have a song that features a soprano range and isn’t about the love of your life. “The Girl in 14G” is incredibly comedic and just pure fun that every soprano should include in their repertoire for a nice change of pace.
4. “Not a Love Story” from Tales From The Bad Years, music by Brian Lowdermilk and lyrics by Kait Kerrigan
A bit of an anti-love song, “Not a Love Story” is one of the strongest pieces Kerrigan-Lowdermilk have written for a soprano. It tells the story of a failed relationship that seemed all too perfect in the moment. The Kelli O’Hara version featured on Our First Mistake captures the pain and nostalgia as she sings one of the most intriguing melodies I’ve ever heard from this songwriting duo.
5. “When I Fall In Love” from Pride and Prejudice, music and lyrics by Lindsay Warren Baker and Amanda Jacobs
Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite stories so when I heard that there was a musical version being developed in 2008, I was ecstatic. It gets even better as Laura Osnes was cast as Elizabeth Bennet. The character’s song “When I Fall In Love” has universal appeal; the lyrics highlight the trepidation of possibly falling in love, especially for someone as self-assured as Elizabeth Bennet. The demo version with Laura Osnes is sweet yet strong and a perfect blend of the classic story with a fresh musical interpretation.
6. “Dying to Know,” music and lyrics by Timothy Huang
Another comedic song for the funny soprano, “Dying to Know” is a standalone song that goes through the inquisitive life of a girl who just keeps making sure she knows it all, including how a slinky works. While its range is not as high as some of the other songs on this list, it’s in a comfortable zone for any mixer/soprano. The lyrics are fun and lighthearted, making it a perfect song for the soprano who is looking for a lighter number to include in a cabaret.
7. “Almost Everything I Need” from Alphabet City Cycle, music by Georgia Stitt and lyrics by Marcy Heisler
Georgia Stitt has a way of combining moving melodies with Marcy Heisler’s thought-provoking lyrics, as is evident in “Almost Everything I Need.” The entire song cycle where this comes from is written for sopranos, as Kate Baldwin takes the lead for most of the songs. “Almost Everything I Need” tries to look at all the positives one has in life but also acknowledges how hard it is to lose someone you love. The message of the song is just as beautiful as the melody. There’s also an added bonus of Titus Burgess singing it in the original key, and yes it’ll probably still make you cry.