The Soprano

Samuel Mariño is a rarity in opera: a true male soprano.

Rather than relying on falsetto as a countertenor would, Mariño, 28, is able to comfortably sing high notes with his chest voice. Now he is branching out from Baroque parts originally written for castrati.

“The teachers were trying to treat me as a countertenor. I had to sing lower when I could sing much higher. Being a countertenor is an established thing, and they were trying to put me into that box. Then, in 2017, I met Barbara Bonney. A friend told me that I sing very much like her. I wrote to her and said: “Hi. I’m Samuel and I want to take lessons with you.” I went to Salzburg, Austria, and Barbara was like a fairy godmother. She told me to sing how I speak, to just put notes to my speaking voice. And that is what I do today.”

Your new album starts with a famous Mozart aria written for a woman who is playing a man. What do you bring to the role as a male singer?

“My voice is a light lyric soprano, with a bit of coloratura. In the score, Cherubino is a soprano role, but today it’s for mezzo-sopranos and their male-ish colors. If you talk to any mezzo, they will tell you it’s very hard to sing Cherubino, because it’s quite high — not super high notes, but sitting all the time in a high tessitura. Cherubino is a young teenager, and I do him as a boy who is innocent and confused. It’s a totally different vision of how the role can be sung.”

6 Replies to “The Soprano”

  1. I’m waiting patiently for the “they made me play bass because the band didn’t need a soprano” stories.

    1. I don’t know about Renfield, but I picked it up because I couldn’t find anyone else who would. I was gonna be kazoo player …

  2. I always thought basses were cooler than guitars because they were bigger, played lower, and had thick strings. And Paul was a bassist. Worked out perfectly because my older brother wanted to be a guitarist and got there first. So once I started, we always had someone to play with. But then when he first started I’d annoy him by playing a trumpet mouthpiece like a kazoo. Next best thing I guess.

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