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A bass-baritone is a high-lying bass that shares certain qualities with the baritone. The term arose in the late 19th century to describe the particular type of voice required to sing three Wagnerian roles: the Dutchman in Der fliegende Holländer, Wotan/Der Wanderer in the Ring Cycle and Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Wagner labelled these roles as Hoher Bass ("high bass").

The bass-baritone voice is distinguished by two attributes. First, it must be capable of singing comfortably in a baritonal tessitura. It must also, however, have the resonant lower range typically associated with the bass. For example, the role of Wotan in Die Walküre covers the range from F at the bottom of the bass clef to F# above middle C, but only infrequently descends beyond the C below middle C. Bass-baritones are typically divided into two separate categories: lyric bass-baritone and dramatic bass-baritone.

The term bass-baritone is roughly synonymous with the Italian term basso cantante; for example, in Verdi, Philip II in Don Carlos is usually taken by a bass-baritone, while Ferrando in Il Trovatore is sung by a true bass—though the two roles' ranges are very similar. In Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande the lower baritone role of Golaud is a bass-baritone, sitting between Pelleas (high baritone) and Arkel (bass). See fach for more. Much of the oratorio repertoire, from Handel's Messiah to Mendelssohn's Elijah is best suited to a bass-baritone with the ability to combine a rich, dark tone with a smooth high-lying cantabile line. Many of the Mozart baritone roles such as Don Giovanni, Figaro and Gugliemo&mdashcomposed before the term "baritone" gained currency—are typically played by a bass-baritone.

Lyric Bass-baritone

Bass-baritone is a voice with the resonant low notes of the typical bass but with the ability to sing in a baritonal tessitura. Sometimes it also refers to a voice with a range and tone somewhere between a bass and a baritone. The Bass-baritone's required range can vary tremendously based on the role, with some less demanding than others. Some bass-baritones are baritones, like Friedrich Schorr, George London, James Morris and Bryn Terfel. The following are more often done by high basses as opposed to lower baritones.

Dramatic Bass-baritone

Bass-baritone roles in operetta and musicals

All of the Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas have at least one bass-baritone character. Bass-baritones famous for singing these roles included Richard Temple, Darrell Fancourt and Donald Adams.

Some notable bass-baritones roles featured in Musicals are:

Some roles that are routinely played by baritones may also be played by a strong Bass-Baritone. Some notable examples include Don Quixote/Miguel de Cerventes in Man of La Mancha and Javert in Les Miserables.

Instruments and Voices
Woodwinds Flute (Piccolo/Alto/Bass)RecorderOboe (Cor Anglais/Oboe D'amore/Heckelphone)Clarinet (E♭/Bass/Contrabass)

Bassoon (Contrabassoon)SaxophoneBagpipes

Brass HornCornetTrumpetTromboneEuphoniumTubaSaxhorns
Keyboards PianoOrganHarmoniumHarpsichordClavichordCelestaAccordion
Percussion Tuned: TimpaniGlockenspielChimesVibraphoneXylophoneMarimbaCrotalesMusical sawHammered Dulcimer

Untuned: Snare drumBass drumTriangleCymbalsGongsTom-tomsShakersDrumset

Electronic ThereminOndes MartenotSynthesizerElectronic Wind Instrument
Stringed Bowed: ViolinViolaVioloncelloContrabass

Plucked: HarpGuitarMandolinBanjo

Voices Female: SopranoMezzo-soprano (often mistaken with Alto)Contralto (often mistaken with Alto)

Male: TrebleCountertenorTenorBaritoneBass-baritoneBass