CONTRALTO (from Ital. contra-alto, i.e. next above the alto), the term for the lowest variety of the female voice, as distinguished from the soprano and mezzo-soprano. Originally it signified, in choral music, the part next higher than the alto, given to the falsetto counter-tenor.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)