pant roles

In musical dramas (opera and musicals) there is such phenomenon as pant roles. This article will tell you all about pant roles if you don’t already know. Sound fun? Stick around.


Pant roles – no it doesn’t mean a role played by a singer wearing only inner pants. If you were thinking this please go for confession. Pant role refers to a woman playing the role of a man. This actress/singer always comes to stage in male pants and most ones cut hair and no make up. She must be presented as a man by the costume department, but the only thing female about this acting man is her voice.

Females who sing pant roles do not come on stage singing in the male voice. (This is a phenomenon that will be discussed in another article.) She still sings like a female but the character is a man.

Pant roles are also called breeches role, and are sung by a mezzo soprano or a contralto.

A pant role in an opera


Pant roles began in the 19th century. In the 17th century in Europe, women were banned from singing publicly then the castrati became popular. These are men who sing high (learn more about Castrati). They played rules and kings in operas. When the law was rescinded and women could sing again, the high voice was still associated with kings and emperors – it was deemed disrespectful to make the emperor a low voice singer. So women had to play this role but in pants.


A few pant roles in an opera include the following:

  1. Fyodor in Boris Godunou by Misorgsky

2. The composer in Ariadne Auf Nexos by Strauss

3. Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart

4. Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier by Strauss

5. Orpheus in Orpheus and Euridice by Gluck

6. Ascanio in Benvenuto Cellini by Berlioz

7. Serxe in Serxeby Handel

8. Le Punic Charment in Cendrillon by Massenet

Have you seen a pant role character on stage? Wait, how about men who act female roles in gowns? What would you call them? Drop your comments below.


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