best opera singers in the world today – male persuasion

I’m a capable researcher using electronic technology (not to mention, that I work for a College and have great resources at my disposal). I was searching for someone’s–anyone’s–contemporary classification of the world’s best opera singers. I found a link to a dated USA Today article naming the best stars of the 1990’s. Interesting. But far from  up-to-date.

I wanted  to skip the venerable legends who are still alive but sing only occasionally, if at all. For the purposes of this list, I wasn’t looking for promising up-and-comers either, though they may be the subject of another post.

Who are the opera stars of today? Whom are we seeing onstage, watching with awe and admiration?

Since I didn’t have any contemporary articles to from which to choose candidates, I asked my “Operatoonity” followers on Twitter to help me put together a slate of  favorite current performers.

Here then are all the male stars identified as top-of-the-heap. Which are your favorites?

Roberto Alagna

Roberto Alagna, French tenor

– Marcelo Álvarez, Argentine lyric tenor

Lawrence Brownlee, American tenor

Tenor Lawrence Brownlee / photo by Andreas Klingberg

– Joseph Calleja, Maltese tenor

– Carlo Colombara, Italian bass

Plácido Domingo, Spanish tenor and conductor

Gerald Finley, Canadian bass-baritone

Juan Diego Flórez, Peruvian tenor

Ferruccio Furlanetto, Italian bass

Vittorio Grigolo, Italian tenor

– Thomas Hampson, American baritone

Dmitri Hvorostovsky

– Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Russian baritone

– Jonas Kaufmann, German spinto tenor

– Simon Keenlyside, British baritone

– Mariusz Kwiecień, Polish baritone

– James Morris, American bass-baritone

– René Pape, German bass

Bass-bari Erwin Schrott

-Ruggero Raimondi, the Italian bass-baritone

–  Erwin Schrott, Uruguayan bass-baritone

– Stuart Skelton, Australian heldentenor

Bryn Terfel, Welsh, bass-baritone

– John Tomlinson, English bass

– Ramón Vargas, Mexican tenor

Tenor Ramon Vargas

Did I include your favorite male performer singing opera today? Write-ins are, of course, welcome in the comments.

Stop back tomorrow for the women!

And a special thank you, to all those providing input on Twitter.


Filed under 21st Century Opera, Audience participation, Performers, Poll

60 Responses to best opera singers in the world today – male persuasion

  1. James Satariano

    The Maltese baritone JOSEPH Satariano who sang all over Italy, Australia and South America before coming to the UK in 1939 should also be named

  2. Trevor Lynes

    Piotr Beczela is also worthy of inclusion.
    Unfortunately Villazon appears to have drifted away from the scene of late. He was a wonderful and humorous Colleague of Anna Netrebko in many opera’s and concerts.
    A brilliant tenor when in good voice and very popular.

    • Gale

      Villazon is singing Don Ottavio at the Met this fall, and I hope he is in good voice. I feel privileged to have the chance to hear him at this point in his career, despite his challenges.

  3. My friend and hair dresser, David Sorrentino has a great tenor voice and is much in demand locally and elsewhere. He recently sang to an appreciative audience at the O2 with the better known Patrizio Buanne. Dave deserves to be better known himself. When visiting his salon in Hoddesdon, Herts, prepare to be musically entertained whilst having your hair done, which may take a little more time!. .

  4. Joan Dean

    How about David Hobson from Austalia, glorious voice?????

  5. Lanza

    A great singer that should be mentioned too Javier Camarena

  6. tyhnbol

    Roberto Saccà ?

  7. barbara m donald

    There are so many wonderful singers in the world, it’s impossible to single out just one as the best. It’s all down to taste. One singer can send someone into raptures, whereas he can leave someone else cold. Some people insist on perfect technique, but others judge by their emotional response. There really is no winner, just loads of beautiful voices giving unbelievable pleasure to thousands, for which we are eternally grateful

  8. James Malcolm

    I’d like someone to explain why John Relyea is not on anyone’s list. I think his voice is magnificent.

  9. Classic

    What about Kenneth Tarver, the best male tenor of our generation.

  10. Irene Dzuris

    Hey, I don’t see Andrea Bocelli, best known for “Time to Say Goodbye” with Sarah Brightman. He is my very favorite male opera star. And where is Spanish tenor Jose Carreras who just made a triumphant return to opera in “El Juez” by Austrian composer Christian Kolonovits. I’ve enjoyed both of the stars on stage and they are spectacular.

    • Kris R.

      Andrea Bocelli er rubbish. Popstar and nothing more. Carreras would be a candidate, he’s just old and not the best “today”.

  11. Franssales

    When you opened this poll I would have added bass-baritone Tom Krause without hesitation. A rich, noble and trusted voice for recordings, there is more than 100 of them. He died in December.

  12. Richard Croft? Arguably one of the most versatile tenors of today and for me in the top range for Mozart.

  13. Margaret

    Jonathan Antione is missing. Even Rolando was blown away by this young man. Absolutley stunning!

  14. Kendall Buck

    She sang solo alto soprano on stage on TV several years ago. So beautifully; soprano supreme. At the end she twirled center stage to roaring approval, arms raised over her head. Who was this beautiful french singer? She surely must be recognized by someone.

  15. Jonas Kaufmann is by far the greatest Tenor in the world today!!! No other Tenor can match the quality of his ( unique Timbre) voice, musicality, acting ability(he embodies every role he plays). Not to mention his versatility( who else sings in German,Italian& French plus his exquisite Liede artistry! Add to that his dark smoldering Movie-Star good looks & his riveting stage presence & you have the reason why he sells out the house in every major Opera & Concert hall in the world!!! Long may he Reign!!!

    • Gale

      I am a devoted fan of Kaufmann and would love to see him in person someday. Thanks for stopping, Dianna.

  16. Stefan

    A great bass-baritone that should be noted ir Britisher Pavlo Hunka.

  17. Nikki

    Piotr Beczala, Marius Kweicen, Ildar Abdrazakov, and Stefan Kocán should also be on the list and i was also wondering if this list is in any order because if it is Marcelo Alvarez should not be second just because he is an ok singer but isn’t a very good actor and Dmitri Hvorostovsky should take his place.

    • Gale

      You may be right about Hvorostovsky! Thanks for your feedback on my list.

    • Batbara Latham

      The list is in alphabetical order, so Hvorostovsky would have to change his name to be a substitute for Alvarez on your list. He’d probably be ok with it.

  18. Marie Pierson

    For me – best male opera singers in the world today – I have to say . . .
    Michael Merullo – just starting out – I have watched him over the years – he is brilliant – a true star!

  19. Lisa

    Piotr Beczala is missing!

  20. George

    Hey there Yes I must agree it was odd to leave our Mr Villazon. Also what about Joseph Calleja – he is an amazing talent. I do not think your list can be complete without both.

  21. Dekano

    Guys and girls, do not leave out Željko Lučić, a Serbian baritone. He is really good. He is, however, into Verdi very heavily. He calls him ‘papa Verdi’. Great voice.

  22. Edward Cassar

    Madonna mia! Where is the present Mario Lanza??? I refer to the great Tenor Joseph Calleja.

  23. Carlos Andres

    The article misses the tenor Rolando Villazon, he’s definiely one of the greaes nowadays

    • Gale

      Agreed. At the time I wrote this, I believe Villazon was on medical hiatus.

    • Stefax

      I think Villazon is good but Gale is right, as far as I know he’s currently “re-starting” but on a much slower pace. I think tho that he lacks a bit control of his voice that often leads to imperfections (infact it seems his current condition IS due to the lack of control and excess of voice stress). Personally in the “baritone” category I like Leo Nucci a lot… great color and awesome control. As for Vittorio Grigolo… I cannot really like him, looks a lot like a “tv product” more than a good tenor. His voice is just too thin, to perform a believable duke of mantua he had to “darken” it and looked funny.

  24. Audrey

    I would definitely add David Daniels to this list.

  25. Howard

    I’m uninitiated, but what happened to Carreras?

  26. Terry Creagh

    Please remember little ol’ New Zealand, certainly include fantastic bass Teddy Tahu Rhodes!

  27. Marco

    Excellent list, but missing the Italian’s finest baritone: Roberto Frontali.

  28. Singsmile

    David Lomeli!!

  29. Nice blog, i used your list to create a poll (italian site)

  30. Stu

    Villazon is missing – why???

  31. Francois

    I second this: Luca Pisaroni is missing!

  32. Tiago Cesar

    What about Paulo Szot (baritone)?

  33. Sarah M

    Neil Shicoff! The most wonderful, under-rated tenor of his generation.

  34. fidelis

    the best opera singer the fantastic
    Dariusz Paradowski – sopranist

  35. Hi, Paulo. Thanks for stopping by. Furlanetto had made the original list. @manx_maid originally recommended him.

  36. Paulo

    Oh, I see he’s up there already, hadn’t seen it before, my bad!


  37. Paulo

    I’d rather not write what I think of Raimondi, but in my opinion Ferruccio Furlanetto should also be on the list. Tremendous voice, gifted actor and very exciting performer, especially in Verdi (though also a terrific Leporello).

    Thanks for compiling this, Gale. Great post!


  38. Raimondi would definitely be a living-legend-who-still-cuts-the-mustard. He was Sparafucile in last year’s “event” Rigoletto in Mantua, and, last I heard, still sings an extraordinary Scarpia.

  39. asperia

    My greatest favourites (of the singers that are working on opera stage currently) are Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Simon Keenlyside, then Juan Diego Flórez and Jonas Kaufmann.
    I like Bryn Terfel very much. I started to like a lot Thomas Hampson I think.
    I like Plácido Domingo, Roberto Alagna, Marcelo Alvarez, Piotr Beczala, Furlanetto and Pape as well.

    P.S. the right name is “Mariusz Kwiecien.”

  40. Lizzie, is RR still performing? I’m wondering if Sam Ramey shouldn’t be on that list as well.

    Craig, thanks for stopping by. Good additions. I’m hoping to see Marius Kweicen in Don G. next season at the Met!

  41. I think Luca Pisaroni (Bass-Baritone) deserves a spot on that list as well as Marius Kweicen (Baritone) and certainly Nathan Gunn (Baritone).

  42. Lizzie

    I am missing Ruggero Raimondi on that list! 😉

    • Mogi

      What about the Mongolian baritone Amartuvshin Enkhbat who the second prize in the XIV International P.I.Tchaikivsky Competition (Moscow, 2011) and the first prize in Operalia 2012 (Beijing)? Can you just ignore his voice timbre, musicality and the ability to touch anyone’s soul who listens to his singing?