what makes a great tenor?

Rolando Villazón

No matter how much you know about opera or about tenors for that matter, you’ll love this seven-part series “What Makes a Great Tenor?” produced by the BBC and hosted by tenor legend Rolando Villazón.

Villazón is an intelligent, gracious host. He is generous with his praise of other world-renowned tenors of his generation–Juan Diego Flórez, Plácido Domingo, Jonas Kauffman. And shares his instrument on cue–a real pro!

He is a most charming teacher and guide. And the perfect choice to lead us through this series. When he says, “They have all [tenors] received deafening applause,” that’s an experience he himself can claim, rightly so.  Later when he says, “Being a tenor takes dedication and a lot of hard work”  observations on his profession like this and others are delievered with credence and conviction.

This is a truly delightful series that enlightens and entertains. You’ll hear Roberto Alagna speaking in French about how significant it was that the tenor voice became a virile-sounding vocal part in the 1830s, which has certainly been a large measure of his superstar appeal and countless others.

There are wonderful contemporary and historic snippets of the great ones singing the great arias. Even interviews with the divas of today regarding the signficance and the challenges of the tenor role.

Here is the first part (1/7) of “What Makes A Great Tenor?”  All seven parts are available on YouTube. It is not to be missed. Do let me know what you think of it.

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Filed under opera history, Performers, tenors, Video

3 Responses to what makes a great tenor?

  1. Dr. Jerry Galloway

    It’s an average of technical precision and brightness or “aliveness.” (Something like expressiveness has a role on both scales – so this is a little lose.) The highest on both scales combined yields the best tenor. José Carreras for example has technical precision but lacks some on the second scale. Pavarati is the best on both scales that I’ve ever heard. The best on just the second scale would be Mario Lanza but he lacks on the first scale. Not minding that, I enjoy Mario Lanza. My appreciation and respect however is highest for Pavarati. — lastly: I don’t know anything so why care about my opinion?

    • Gale

      Well, you sound quite knowledgeable to me. If people took time and care, they could use your scale(s) to discern why certain singers are more appealing than others. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Thanks for the link! Very interesting.