For decades, Broadway’s sopranos such as Barbara Cook, Kristin Chenoweth, and Audra McDonald have mesmerized audiences with high notes and unforgettable characters. Many of today’s sopranos, however, might have trouble searching for contemporary or underused material for auditions. Some soprano songs could have one dancing all night, while other songs are so popular that you have to climb every mountain to find one that isn’t overdone. To help solve this problem, I’ve compiled a list of 10 overlooked songs that sopranos should consider for auditions.
1. “Only Love” from The Scarlet Pimpernel.
This musical by Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll and Hyde) and Nan Knighton premiered on Broadway in 1997, but went through several revisions. The song “Only Love” is performed in the second act by Marguerite Blakeney, a London aristocrat. This ballad, originally recorded by Christine Andreas, is reminiscent of the great torch songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Range: Bb3-F5.
2. “Old Maid” from 110 in the Shade.
This 1963 Broadway musical was revived in 2007 with Audra McDonald as the lead. This song closes the first act. After upsetting the man she loves, the character Lizzie tries to come to terms with the possibility of living alone as an “old maid.” Range: B3-F5.
3. “China Doll” from Marguerite.
This musical, based on the French novel La Dame aux Camelias, premiered on West End in 2008. Set in World War II-era Paris, the musical is about a 40 year-old singer, Marguerite, who falls in love with a young man caught in the middle of the French Resistance. The song “China Doll” is Marguerite’s most popular song, which she sings at her 40th birthday party. Range: B3-D5.
4. “Painting Her Portrait” from Jane Eyre.
Based on the classic Charlotte Bronte novel, the musical version of Jane Eyre had a workshop production in 1995 before premiering on Broadway in 2000. In this song, Jane creates a likeness of herself and despairs to be enough for Mr. Rochester. Range: Ab3-D5.
5. “Will You?” from Grey Gardens.
Based on the 1975 documentary on The Beales, Grey Gardens premiered Off-Broadway in 2006 before transferring to Broadway the same year. At the end of the first act, Edith and her daughter “Little” Edie have gotten into a fight, during which “Little” Edie resolves to leave Grey Gardens for New York City. Edith sings this song for her party guests to mask her inner turmoil. Range: C4-E5.
6. “The Beauty Is” from The Light in the Piazza.
Based on the novella by Elizabeth Spencer, this musical premiered in Seattle in 2003 before transferring to Broadway in 2005. This song is sung by Clara, who is in awe of the spectacles in Florence’s Uffizi Gallery. Range: B3-G5.
7. “This Is All Very New to Me” from Plain and Fancy.
This musical, which premiered on Broadway in 1955, was one of the earliest pop culture depictions of Amish life. This song, which was first performed by Barbara Cook, is ideal in auditions for Golden Age shows as well as more traditional shows such as The Music Man. Range: Bb3-Ab5.
8. “Love Makes Such Fools of Us All” from Barnum.
This Cy Coleman musical about the life of P.T. Barnum opened on Broadway in 1980. The character Jenny Lind, a Swedish opera singer, performs this song first in her native language, and then in English. Range: A3-G5.
9. “No Other Love” from Me and Juliet.
This long-forgotten Rodgers and Hammerstein II musical opened on Broadway in 1953, closed after 358 performances, and has never been revived on Broadway. Although originally a duet, this number can easily be performed as a solo. Range: D4-Ab5.
10. “What Makes Me Love Him?” from The Apple Tree.
This series of three short musicals premiered on Broadway in 1966, and was revived in 2006. The first act contains characters from The Old Testaments, particularly Adam and Eve. In this song, Eve reflects on her love for Adam before she passes away. Although the range for this song is rather low for a soprano, editors have commented that it is better meant for a soprano than a belter. Range: G#3-C#5.