There are several inter-connected challenges inherent in any attempt to theorize vocal performance. Traditionally, the prior written text has taken precedence over the performed sound when performances are being critiqued and analysed. The language of visualism has contributed to misconceptions concerning the nature and function of the voice, while confusion regarding the differences among language, voice, and speech are bound up with the nature of perception itself. This article examines these challenges and argues that, since the performing voice constitutes the sound of the unique individual who is the actor, it contains within its fluctuations and nuances the character who emerges from the actor's engagement with the text. Voice, therefore, is the site of identity, unstable yet uniquely embodied, of the actor who is the character. It is proposed that actor training would be greatly enhanced by the inclusion of a theoretical appreciation of the nature of the voice in performance.