Some opera singers do something with their voices that to me sounds a bit silly. It is probably a stylistic element that id difficult for me to understand.

Richard Tauber's Dein ist mein ganzes Herz aus Land des Lächelns has this thing at 0:32.

I also hear Kaufmann use it at 0:38

I have heard stronger versions of it that sounded like the singer had a bad singing day but since so many use it I must be wrong.

I have been told that in classical singing the equalization is very important. But at the same time they use this thing a lot in opera. To me it sounds like a singer trying to use too much head voice in the higher notes.

What is this vocal technique called and why is it used?

  • It is hard to tell what you mean with such an old recording, for we have a lot of distortion, especially with loud passages. The part you linked might just be forced a little bit, but it’s hard to tell from the recording.
    – Lazy
    Jul 29, 2022 at 10:55
  • I will give another example then Jul 29, 2022 at 10:59
  • 1
    I do not really find something special in the Jonas Kaufmann clip. He puts quite a bit of accent of emphasis on the "der". Which is expected, because Kaufmann is probably not capable of doing a soft voice entry.
    – Lazy
    Jul 29, 2022 at 12:30

2 Answers 2


That Kaufmann one is called a 'sob note', I believe. But I can't hear a sob in the Tauber clip.

There's a famous sob-note in the aria "Vesti la giubba" (On with the Motley), from Pagliacci, which was said to have killed its singer, Aroldo Lindi. Composers don't write 'Sob' over the note, but I think the Pagliacci one is a tradition. I wouldn't put it past Rigoletto to do one on the last word of Rigoletto, but it would be out-of-place at the end of Nessun Dorma, as the character is singing "Vincerò!" (I'll win!) and is certainly not sobbing.

  • I hear it in both. Tauber's voice "cracks" very slightly as he begins the high "Der."
    – Aaron
    Jul 30, 2022 at 0:49
  • Hmm. He does scoop, but is it a sob? Don't make me listen to it again:-) Aha! Bona fide sob note spotted at 01:41. The song's in Db, so the sob's on the Eb: that little high-pitched yelp at the start of the note. AH! And a beauty at the very end of the song. 03:04: "Ich hab' dich <sob> lieb." Jul 30, 2022 at 2:44
  • @Aaron do great opera singer crack? Why would great singer do that? Jul 30, 2022 at 9:14
  • @harryjansson That's why I put it in quotation marks. It's not a mistake in his voice; it's an effect that he's using to convey emotion.
    – Aaron
    Jul 30, 2022 at 13:08

It's called 'going for the money note'! Opera audiences seem to like it. I agree with you, it's ugly.

  • I never said that it is ugly Jul 29, 2022 at 13:36
  • @Laurence Payne. Yes. That's its other name! Jul 29, 2022 at 15:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.