Broadway Songs for Altos: 9 Iconic Examples with Interesting Details
Broadway musicals have a rich history of captivating audiences with their powerful storytelling, breathtaking performances, and memorable songs. For altos, these musicals offer a plethora of opportunities to showcase their vocal range, depth, and emotion. Whether you’re an aspiring Broadway star or simply someone who loves the magic of musical theater, here are nine Broadway songs for altos that are sure to leave a lasting impression.
1. “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Misérables (1980)
“I Dreamed a Dream” is a hauntingly beautiful ballad that showcases the emotional journey of Fantine, a struggling single mother, in the iconic musical Les Misérables. With its soaring melodies and heart-wrenching lyrics, this song offers altos a chance to showcase their vulnerability and depth. Originally performed by Patti LuPone, it has since become a staple for many alto performers, including Lea Salonga and Anne Hathaway.
2. “On My Own” from Les Misérables (1980)
Another gem from Les Misérables, “On My Own” is a powerful anthem that tells the story of Eponine, a young woman hopelessly in love. This song requires an alto with strong acting skills, as it demands both emotional depth and vocal prowess. With its soaring high notes and heartfelt lyrics, it is a favorite among many alto performers, including Samantha Barks and Lea Salonga.
3. “Defying Gravity” from Wicked (2003)
“Defying Gravity” is a show-stopping number from the hit musical Wicked, which tells the untold story of the Wicked Witch of the West. This song highlights the strength, determination, and courage of Elphaba, the misunderstood protagonist. Altos who tackle this song must possess a powerful voice to belt out the high notes and convey the character’s unwavering spirit. Idina Menzel’s original performance of this song is legendary and has become synonymous with the role of Elphaba.
4. “Maybe This Time” from Cabaret (1966)
“Maybe This Time” is a poignant solo performed by Sally Bowles in the iconic musical Cabaret. This song explores the themes of hope, love, and resilience in the face of uncertainty. Altos who perform this song have the opportunity to showcase their storytelling abilities and vulnerability. Liza Minnelli’s captivating rendition in the 1972 film adaptation remains a classic choice for alto performers.
5. “I Know Him So Well” from Chess (1984)
“I Know Him So Well” is a powerful duet sung by two women, Florence and Svetlana, in the musical Chess. This song delves into the complexities of love, trust, and sacrifice. Altos who perform this duet must possess exceptional harmony skills and the ability to convey the emotional depth of the characters. Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson’s original performance of this song is an exquisite example of the harmonious blend of two alto voices.
6. “Memory” from Cats (1981)
“Memory” is a timeless ballad performed by Grizabella, a former glamour cat, in the long-running musical Cats. This song explores themes of loss, redemption, and the power of memories. Altos who tackle this song must possess a strong emotional connection to the character and the ability to convey vulnerability through their voice. Elaine Paige’s original performance of this song is widely regarded as one of the most iconic renditions.
7. “As Long as He Needs Me” from Oliver! (1960)
“As Long as He Needs Me” is a powerful ballad performed by Nancy in the classic musical Oliver! This song delves into the complexities of love, loyalty, and forgiveness. Altos who perform this song have the opportunity to showcase their versatility, as it requires both tender vulnerability and fierce determination. Georgia Brown’s original performance of this song in the West End production is widely celebrated.
8. “I Can Hear the Bells” from Hairspray (2002)
“I Can Hear the Bells” is a delightful and energetic solo performed by Tracy Turnblad in the hit musical Hairspray. This song showcases the character’s infectious optimism, excitement, and anticipation of love. Altos who tackle this song must possess a strong stage presence, as it demands both vocal agility and the ability to convey the character’s exuberance. Marissa Jaret Winokur’s original performance of this song in the Broadway production earned her a Tony Award.
9. “Take Me or Leave Me” from Rent (1996)
“Take Me or Leave Me” is a powerful duet performed by two women, Maureen and Joanne, in the groundbreaking musical Rent. This song explores the complexities of love, independence, and acceptance. Altos who perform this duet must possess exceptional chemistry with their duet partner and the ability to convey the characters’ fiery personalities. Idina Menzel and Fredi Walker’s original performance of this song remains a fan favorite.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
1. What is an alto in musical theater?
– An alto refers to a vocal range and is often associated with lower female voices. Altos typically sing in the range below the soprano and above the tenor.
2. Can altos hit high notes?
– While altos generally have a lower vocal range, they can still hit high notes with proper vocal training and technique.
3. Are there specific Broadway roles for altos?
– Yes, there are numerous iconic Broadway roles written specifically for altos, such as Fantine in Les Misérables and Elphaba in Wicked.
4. How can I improve my alto singing voice?
– Regular vocal exercises, proper breathing techniques, and working with a vocal coach can help improve your alto singing voice.
5. What are some famous alto singers on Broadway?
– Some famous alto singers on Broadway include Patti LuPone, Idina Menzel, and Lea Salonga.
6. Can males be altos in musical theater?
– Yes, males can also be altos. In musical theater, male altos are often referred to as countertenors.
7. Are there any contemporary Broadway songs for altos?
– Yes, contemporary Broadway shows like Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen have songs that suit alto voices.
8. Can altos belt high notes?
– Altos can belt high notes, but it may require vocal training and practice to develop the necessary technique and strength.
9. Are there any classic Broadway songs that altos should know?
– Yes, classic Broadway songs like “I Could Have Danced All Night” from My Fair Lady and “People” from Funny Girl are great choices for altos.
10. How can I find sheet music for alto songs?
– Sheet music for alto songs can be found at music stores, online retailers, or through digital sheet music platforms.
11. Are there any Broadway shows exclusively for altos?
– While there may not be shows exclusively for altos, there are certainly roles and songs that cater to their vocal range.
12. What are some tips for auditioning with a Broadway song as an alto?
– Choose a song that showcases your vocal range, practice with accompaniment, and bring out the character’s emotions in your performance.
13. Can altos sing soprano songs?
– Altos can sing soprano songs, but they may need to transpose the song to a lower key to accommodate their vocal range.
14. Are there any famous alto songs outside of Broadway?
– Yes, there are plenty of famous alto songs outside of Broadway, such as “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen or “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele.
15. Are there any ensemble songs for altos in Broadway musicals?
– Yes, many Broadway musicals feature ensemble songs that include parts for altos.
16. Can altos sing male songs in musical theater?
– Altos can sing male songs in musical theater, but they may need to transpose the song to a lower key to fit their vocal range.
17. Are there any tips for developing a unique alto tone?
– Focus on developing a warm and resonant tone, experiment with different vocal techniques, and embrace your unique vocal qualities.
In conclusion, Broadway offers a treasure trove of songs for altos to showcase their vocal prowess, emotional depth, and acting abilities. Whether it’s the heart-wrenching ballads of Les Misérables or the energetic anthems of Wicked, these songs provide altos with a platform to captivate audiences and leave a lasting impression. So, step into the spotlight, embrace your alto voice, and let the magic of Broadway take you on a remarkable journey.
Broadway songs for altos not only provide a platform for showcasing vocal talent but also offer opportunities for personal growth and storytelling. From the powerful ballads of Les Misérables to the energetic numbers of Hairspray, these songs allow altos to explore a wide range of emotions and characters. Whether you’re a seasoned performer or just starting your musical theater journey, don’t be afraid to embrace the unique qualities of your alto voice and let it shine on the Broadway stage. So, grab your sheet music, warm up those vocal cords, and get ready to captivate audiences with the timeless magic of Broadway.