The Greatest Female Opera Singers of All Time

Over 10.6K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Greatest Female Opera Singers of All Time
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Most divisive: Joan Sutherland

While opera isn't the most popular for of modern entertainment, it is still a significant cultural staple in many countries, and can be an incredibly moving experience. An opera singer is skilled in the art of singing, acting, and most importantly, projecting their voice in a powerful way to a live audience, filling the entire theatre with music. Female opera singers can hit the high notes with ease.

Who are the best female opera singers of all time? The talented women featured on this list have made a significant impact in the world of opera, and are incredibly talented. Female opera singers are usually sopranos or altos. If you’re interested in opera and want to see these female singers in action, but can't afford to attend, there are many operas available on DVD as well.

The greatest female opera singers on this list include Maria Callas, Renee Fleming, and Anna Gottlieb. Vote up the best of the best below or add the top female opera singers you think are the best if they aren't already on the list.
Ranked by
  • Megan Marie Hart
    2,265 votes

    A true powerhouse in the world of opera, Megan Marie Hart is renowned for her exceptional vocal range and undeniable stage presence. With a mesmerizing soprano voice that can captivate audiences from the first note, she effortlessly embraces the complexities and emotional depths of each role she adopts. Hart's incredible versatility has seen her tackle iconic roles such as Salome and Ariadne, earning her widespread acclaim and admiration. Her unwavering dedication to her craft and the seemingly limitless potential of her voice make her a standout among the greatest female opera singers of our time.

  • Maria Callas
    2,112 votes
    New York City, Manhattan, USA

    Often referred to as "La Divina," Maria Callas remains one of the most enduring and celebrated sopranos in history. Known for her impeccable vocal technique and unparalleled ability to express emotions through her voice, Callas was able to embody some of opera's most demanding roles, such as Norma and Tosca, with ease. A true icon who revolutionized the world of opera, her passion and commitment to her art form paved the way for future generations of female opera singers. Maria Callas' phenomenal talent and dramatic flair will forever ensure her place among the very best.

  • Montserrat Caballe
    1,638 votes
    Spain, Barcelona

    From the moment she stepped onto the opera stage, Montserrat Caballé captivated the world with her exquisite bel canto technique and stunning range. Her celestial voice and flawless control could send shivers down the spine of audiences everywhere. As one of the most well-regarded sopranos of the 20th century, Caballé graced the stages of legendary opera houses across the globe, including La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera. Her legendary performances, alongside the likes of Luciano Pavarotti and Plácido Domingo, have secured her legacy as one of opera's most unforgettable talents.

  • Leontyne Price
    1,679 votes
    USA, Laurel, Mississippi

    Breaking barriers and setting new standards for vocal excellence, Leontyne Price is a true pioneer among female opera singers. As the first African American to become a leading artist at the Metropolitan Opera, her powerful voice and commanding presence left an indelible mark on her audiences. Revered for her performances as Aida, Leonora, and Tosca, Price’s effortless control and rich, emotional delivery set her apart as a truly exceptional talent. Her impact on the world of opera is undeniable, and her legacy continues to inspire future generations of performers.

  • Renata Tebaldi
    1,064 votes
    Pesaro, Italy

    A voice of unparalleled beauty and richness, Renata Tebaldi's lush soprano was often described as "a voice of angels." With a flawless technique and innate musicality, she effortlessly embodied some of opera's most beloved heroines, such as Desdemona and Mimi. Famed for her renditions of Verdi and Puccini roles, Tebaldi's legendary performances earned her a reputation as one of the most remarkable female opera singers of the 20th century. Her magnificent contributions to the world of opera continue to be cherished and celebrated by fans and fellow musicians alike.

  • Mirella Freni
    561 votes
    Italy, Modena

    Possessing a uniquely warm and expressive voice, Mirella Freni was a darling of the opera world from her debut in the 1950s until her final performance in 2005. Her pristine vocal techniques, coupled with her incredible ability to create deeply emotional connections with her audience, made her a sought-after performer in the most prestigious opera houses across the globe. Known for her definitive portrayals of iconic characters such as Mimi in "La Bohème" and Cio-Cio San in "Madama Butterfly," Freni's legacy as a soprano of exceptional talent and magnetism endures.