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Innocent Soprano

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"What is an ingenue in a musical? Sharon, a role I've already played twice, is typical of the kind. She's the young lady who might end up with a nice-looking tenor. She has a high lyric soprano, big eyes, long hair and a figure that is conventionally attractive but not wildly attractive."
Melissa Errico for The New York Times

A musical trope. In opera and musical theater, the roles of The Ingenue and other young, romantic, and virtuous beautiful maidens are traditionally sung by lyric sopranos.

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Like her Spear Counterpart and probable love interest the Tenor Boy, the Innocent Soprano's high, pure, and clear singing voice highlights her youth and chastity, or her relative lack of experience and stupidity. There is also the opportunity for dissonance if tragedy befalls the poor girl over the course of the film, as her high voice will have to sing about difficult subject matter. "Mad scenes", which had the ingenue soprano undergo a Sanity Slippage into The Ophelia, were a staple of French and Italian opera and were often technically challenging to allow a soprano performer to show off her prowess.

The reason for this may be because a high singing voice sounds more childlike, and Children Are Innocent — in fact, the Rare Male Example is likely to be a young boy whose voice has not yet deepened. To further emphasize this, the Innocent Soprano will probably have a worldlier foil who sings in the mezzo or alto ranges.

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In modern works that don't make use of the traditional ingenue, this can still show up as casting female characters who are naive or childlike as sopranos, especially if they are the romantic lead or Purity Personified. The Innocent Soprano can also show up in works that aren't musicals but involve music in some way, as long as the soprano voice is explicitly tied to innocence. The voice is likely considered a Beautiful Singing Voice in-universe as well.

Note that this refers to the intended vocal range for the role; a production may transpose songs for a performer with a lower range.

Compare Tenor Boy, the young and idealistic tenor lead, and Cherubic Choir, where a choir of high children's voices has positive connotations. Contrast the likely musical theater antagonists — the Alto Villainess or Basso Profundo (if Evil Sounds Deep is in play). See also Soprano and Gravel. Nothing to do with Instant Soprano.

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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Shounen Note is a non-musical Rare Male Example — it's pointed out that Yutaka's ability to sing soprano is exceedingly rare for boys. Fittingly he has a bright, sweet, innocent, and caring personality.

    Films — Animated 
  • Frozen: Anna is a youthful and naive high soprano, in contrast to her troubled sister Elsa, who sings in a powerful mezzo-soprano. Fittingly, she falls for the tenor Kristoff.
  • Sleeping Beauty: While Aurora is coyer and more flirtatious than a traditional ingenue, she still draws heavily from the archetype, being a beautiful, sheltered, and pure-hearted young princess. She is a classical soprano, singing almost exclusively in the head voice.
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Snow White is one of the younger princesses in her early to mid-teens, and is a girl so lovely and innocent that the dwarfs and prince are instantly charmed by her. She's fittingly a soprano, and her songs have many high operatic runs and trills.

    Films — Live Action 

    Literature 
  • Played with in Maskerade (a parody of The Phantom of the Opera) where the cheerful, bubbly, and pretty but unbelievably dim Christine has no singing talent, and in fact only got the main role because her father is one of the opera's backers. Agnes has to sing in her placeinvoked thanks to her Magic Music talents letting her sing multiple voices at the same time — she can both be in the choir and cover for Christine's tone-deaf "soprano" squeaking.

    Music 
  • Shelby Flint, who had a distinctive airy soprano voice, projected an ingenue image in the sixties, with lots of calm songs and lyrics about innocent yearning.
  • Gustav Mahler's otherwise instrumental Symphony No. 4 concludes with "Das himmlische Leben," a soprano song portraying a vision of carefree life in heaven. The composer's footnote directs the singer to convey a "childlike, serene expression; absolutely without parody!" (Symphony No. 3's guilt-ridden alto may be the foil to this soprano, considering that "Das himmlische Leben" was originally intended as its seventh and last movement and shares a few musical themes with its previous movements.)
  • Arthur Sullivan's choral adaptation of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's narrative poem The Golden Legend naturally casts the almost Too Good for This Sinful Earth Elsie as a soprano.

    Theatre 
  • 13: Kendra, who is mentioned repeatedly as being Purity Personified and isn't that bright, is listed as a soprano.
  • In the Soviet musical adaptation of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Ali Baba's wife, The Ingenue Zainab, has a very high voice, in contrast to the Contralto of Danger of Kasim's savvier and less scrupulous wife Fatima.
  • La Bohème: Mimi the innocent and dainty seamstress is a light soprano.
  • Così Fan Tutte: The gentle and naive Fiordiligi, who struggles with her conscience more than her mezzo sister, is a soprano.
  • Sayu Yagami in Death Note: The Musical, is a sweet, innocent soprano who is oblivious to her brother's villainy. She's pretty much the only character who isn't screwed up.
  • Played With in Drood. Rosa is an otherwise straightforward ingenue soprano, being an innocent young woman smitten with Drood. However, the show is Meta Fiction about actors performing an unfinished story, and the audience can choose the murderer — and Rosa is one of the options. If she is selected, she subverts the trope by faking her Purity Personified personality to conceal her intention to murder John Jasper.
  • In Eugene Onegin, Tatiana, a soprano, starts her life as an innocent girl badly hit by Wrong Genre Savvy.
  • Luisa in The Fantasticks. She is a spacey and pretty young woman who thinks of herself as half of a pair of young Star-Crossed Lovers. She Thinks Like a Romance Novel and growing up and seeing the world is a part of her arc. Her role has lots of high soprano sections.
  • Russian operas by The Five had a variation of the trope: "Innocent Lyric/Coloratura Soprano''. Often, there could be two soprano heroines, The Ingenue with a coloratura voice and her more passionate and/or down-to-earth counterpart sung by a dramatic soprano.
    • In Boris Godunov, Kseniya (notably, the only soprano in a very large cast and her part is minor) is gentle, kind, and naive, while everyone else around her is playing the game of thrones.
    • In Khovanshchina, Emma, a soprano, is an innocent Damsel in Distress.
    • In The Snow Maiden, the titular heroine, a lyric coloratura soprano, is a naive child of Father Frost and Spring Beauty, completely unable to understand the concept of passionate love.
    • In The Tsars Bride, Marfa, a lyric coloratura soprano, is innocence personified, a sweet young woman completely oblivious to the plotting and scheming going on around her.
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: Philia, a Brainless Beauty who is an Affectionate Parody of the traditional Purity Personified love interest, sings in the soprano range.
  • Sandy from Grease is the only main soprano; the only other soprano is a bit part. She starts out a wholesome goody-two-shoes (even explicitly compared to Sandra Dee, who was typecast as The Ingenue), unlike the rest of the girl-gang Pink Ladies, who are all altos or alto/mezzos.
  • Guys and Dolls: Missionary Sarah Brown is a forthright, morality-driven soprano who ends up being the Love Interest of Sky Masterson. Her song "I'll Know" highlights her Wide-Eyed Idealist view of romance.
  • Hamilton: Eliza is a soprano, to emphasize her sweetness, femininity, and naivete regarding Alexander. Her sisters and her husband's mistress all sing in the mezzo range for contrast.
  • In Engelbert Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel:
    • Although Children Are Innocent is played straight with both of the leads, the soprano Gretel is much more virtuous and pious than her mezzo brother Hansel. Hansel constantly drags her into mischief and she follows only reluctantly.
    • The Sand Fairy and the Dew Fairy, pure and all-loving spirits of nature, are sung by coloratura sopranos.
  • Into the Woods: Played With. The film's sopranos are fairytale heroines Cinderella and Rapunzel, who are beautiful young maidens who become affianced to princes...so they would both be straightforward ingenues were this not a Fractured Fairy Tale. Instead, Cinderella is snarky and determined, while Rapunzel is ditzy and innocent due to being locked in a tower her whole life, but she's also mentally unstable.
  • In Iolanta, the soprano Iolanta is kind-hearted and innocent to the point that the young man who loves her compares her to an angel on Earth, as do several other characters (while the young man who is not attracted to her dismisses her as too childish for his liking).
  • Anne in A Little Night Music, a naive teenager married to a much older man, but is explicitly still a virgin and does not fully grasp the concept of marriage. She is a soprano, going up to A5.
  • The soprano Elsa in Lohengrin is an innocent, kind Damsel in Distress. Her innocence and naivety is the reason the villains end up easily manipulating her.
  • Lucia di Lammermoor: The titular character is a delicate young woman sung by a coloratura soprano. This is utilized for dramatic effect as Lucia undergoes a Sanity Slippage, resulting in several Glass Shattering Sounds.
  • In Madame Butterfly, the eponymous heroine, a soprano, is a naive and innocent girl of fifteen (around eighteen in the finale), who falls deeply in love with the very undeserving Pinkerton and blindly trusts him throughout the first two acts, despite everyone in the second act telling her he's not coming back. Even when she learns he has married another, she refers to that woman as the happiest one in the world.
  • Les Misérables: Cosette is a beauteous and innocent young woman coming of age in the latter half of the show, and fittingly sings in the soprano range (the only female character to do so).
  • Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812: Ingenue heroine Natasha (introduced as "Natasha is young; she loves Andrey with all her heart") is fittingly a soprano. Her more realistic cousin Sonya is a mezzo, while the villainous Helene and the strict, older Marya are altos.
  • Operatic soprano Christine Daae of The Phantom of the Opera goes up to a high E at the end of the title song and is the lovely young woman at the center of the story. She blindly trusts in the phantom and has a sweet romance with Raoul.
  • I Puritani has Elvira, a coloratura soprano role and the romantic heroine. She is rather fragile, innocent, and emotional.
  • Gilda in Rigoletto, the titular character's beautiful young daughter who is kept a secret from society. Because of her upbringing, she naively falls for the villainous Duke. The most innocent character, she is also the only soprano; the villainous Maddalena is a contralto while other women are mezzos.
  • In Der Rosenkavalier, Sophie, the "younger and fairer" Love Interest apprehensively facing an Arranged Marriage at fifteen, is a high soprano. The crosscast Octavian, normally a fiery mezzo-soprano, also affects a high-pitched Simpleton Voice when in "Mariandel" drag.
  • Natasha in Alexander Dargomyzhsky's Rusalka is a sweet innocent soprano when she is alive. After committing suicide, she becomes an inversion of the trope, a much more malevolent and vengeful rusalka.
  • Sera Myu: Zigzagged.
    • Princess Kakyuu is an operatic soprano of the Purity Personified variety.
    • Inverted with Queen Beryl, Lilith, and Mistress 9, who are all villainous sopranos.
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: Johanna, Sweeney's beautiful and innocent but cloistered young daughter, is a soprano. Fittingly, her love interest, Anthony, is a Tenor Boy.
  • West Side Story: Maria is the naive and romantic young Juliet analogue in this tale of Star-Crossed Lovers, and the part fittingly calls for a strong soprano. Her more cynical good friend Anita is a mezzo for contrast.

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