- Birgit Nilsson (1918 - 2005) was a Swedish dramatic soprano best known for her performances in Wagnerian operas and roles requiring similar vocal power, such as Richard Strauss's Elektra
- Maria Callas (1923 - 1977) American-born Greek soprano whose unique tone and wide range enabled her to sing a wide variety of roles. She was the most influential singer of the middle of the century. Her Carmen is classic.
- Dame Joan Sutherland (1926 -2010) Her most famous role is Lucia, in Lucia di Lammermoor, especially the final "Mad" scene that pairs Lucia with the orchestra's flutes in imitation of bird songs.
- Renata Tebaldi (1922 - 2004) was known as much for her powerful lower range as for her splendid high notes. She performed Puccin's Tosca 162 times, 45 of them at the Metropolitan Opera.
- Leontyne Price (1927 - ) was one of the first African-American performers at the Metropolitan Opera. She has been a champion of American music, and she sang at Lyndon B. Johnson's state funeral. Her best-known roles are Verdi's Aida and Il Trovatore
Famous Sopranos of the Current Generation
- Kathleen Battle (b. 1948), born in Portsmouth, Ohio, is a light-lyric coloratura who performed in both lyric and coloratura roles before giving up the opera stage for the concert stage. Her repertoire ranges from Baroque to jazz, and includes African-American spirituals.
- Renée Fleming (b. 1959), born in the town of Indiana, Pennsylvania. Conductor George Solti likened her vocal quality to that of Renata Tebaldi. Able to sing both coloratura and lyric roles, she has performed a wide variety of repertoire including operatic animated movie characters. She has released several CDs of opera arias and is one of the few performers to take on the Czech language, in Dvorak's Rusalka. She is often in the public eye, performing for President Obama's inauguration at the Lincoln Memorial and at the World Trade Center site. She won a Grammy Award in 2013 for her all-French album, Poèmes.
- Deborah Voigt (b. 1960) is an American singer famous as much for having gastric bypass surgery after being fired by Covent Garden for not fitting into her costume. Her diaphragm survived the operation and subsequent weight loss and she continues to sing demanding roles by Richard Wagner, Richard Strauss, Bellini, and others.
- Natalie Dessay (b. 1969), born in France, began her career singing Mozart and now is in demand for the famous roles by Puccini, Verdi, and Richard Strauss, including Ariadne auf Naxos.
- Diana Damrau (b. 1971), born in Bavaria, has an agile, light voice that is perfect for the famous "Queen of the Night" aria from Mozart's Magic Flute and other Mozart roles. She has branched out to other roles and also performs song and aria albums.
- Anna Netrebko (b. 1971), born in Russia, is one of the most sought-after sopranos of our time. She has performed all the major soprano roles of the standard repertoire and also has sung in her native Russian under the baton of her mentor, conductor Valery Gergiev. Her first recording on DVD was Ruslan and Lyudmila by Glinka. She has appeared many times in the Metropolitan Opera live broadcasts including Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor.