June 18, 2024


I Fall For Art

Historical Operatic Tenors in Opera

The question is how do we go about to find websites dealing in details with operatic tenors from nowadays to as far back as the 19/18th centuries.

If you use the Google Keyword Tool with Historical, Tenors as Keywords, you find the following:

The most popular keywords, connected with operatic tenors, are: Tenor ahead of Tenors with different entries for 3 Tenors, 4 Tenors and so on. If you goggle tenor or tenors, you do not get any meaningful results. the same thing happens with a Yahoo Search using the same keywords. It is also the same thing with Bing.com. In each case we are looking at, we will limit our self to the first page of the search results.

Now let choose the keyword Tenori, Yahoo Search, Google and Bing.com yield one possible interesting site Grandi Tenori.

Now using the keywords Historical Tenors, we get following results:

Google: At the top of the list there is an interesting site Historical Tenors, strangely enough the site link is not direct but through other sites on the first page of the search results. In the search list, there is an entry for Golden Music Memories of Yesteryear and finally the Google search first page ends up for another linkage to the Historical Tenors site, even including one through Geocities, now a defunct service.

Yahoo Search: At the top again Historical Tenors but through another site, Grandi Tenori is on second place, and a possible new comer Greatest Tenors With Frank E. Dee. The first page of the search results also includes link to Flute related pages.

Bing.com: It provides a direct link to Historical Tenors on the first position, Grandi Tenori is on the third place, while Italian Tenors. | Italy is on second place and Golden Music Memories of Yesteryear is at the bottom of the page, the other results not being really relevant.

Let now examine those different possible sites:
Golden Music Memories of Yesteryear/Greatest Tenors With Frank E. Dee is the same site that provides the same run of the mill information on tenors that you can find somewhere else while providing a forum for mainly unsophisticated users. This is not what we are looking for.

Italian Tenors. | Italy lists ten tenors that are also run of the mill information and nothing new. We can safely exclude that site as a rehash of the same information.

Grandi Tenori looks promising. It states in his introduction:

Grandi Tenori.com is an “E-Library” with biographies and articles on tenors, historical and contemporary, extended with rich analysis of renditions of arias, news on promising tenors and debates on tenors vocal qualities, stage presence and interpretation. The site also includes monthly reviews on opera on stage, on CD or on DVD, spectacular photos and featured singers of exceptional stature.

Grandi Tenori.com (GT for short from now on) is also a meeting place for opera lovers, be it mere aficionados or singers, professional as well as young and aspiring. One of the aims with the site is precisely to put aficionados of vocal art together, and if possible, promote young singers and artists who otherwise lack projection.

A closer look at the site reveals a different matter:
This e-library, however, comes with less than 100 biographies of which most (exempt from the longer articles in the “feature” section) are not longer than 500 words. Many of the links to the promised tenor biographies do not work. A closer look at the biographies unfortunately reveals the lack of knowledge of the prior editor and his assistants. Most of the biographies are not only full of strange comments about singing – also a lot of biographical information is inaccurate.

The rest of the site is written in exactly the same style. The tenor biographies are put into a weird order where everything is arranged around Caruso:

” Historical Tenors, meaning all the tenors from the 15th century to the 1st half of the 19th century, including castrati; Pre-Caruso tenors (1850-1900), Post-Caruso tenors (1900-1930) and finally, 20th Century tenors.”

The prior Editor gives no reason for this choice; instead, he declares that his choice was not “meant as historically correct” (sic). The first section (“Historical tenors”) has not a single entry, and according to GT, there are two pre-Caruso tenors: Giovanni Apostolou and Fernando Valero. Then comes a list of post-Caruso tenors: Alcaide, Cortis, Davidov, Gigli, Labinsky, Marini, Martinelli, Merli, Rosvænge, Schipa, von Pataky, Zanelli. The list of 20th century tenors lists names like Björling, Lugo, Schmidt, Kiepura and so on. Why Rosvaenge and Schipa are post-Caruso tenors and not Lugo and Björling will probably remain the secret of the prior Editor.

The GT staff loves to appropriate information and to present it on their website without acknowledgment. A funny case is the one of the Valero discography, which was copied entirely from Historical Tenors (HT) – including one mistake. After the prior Editor was made aware of the missing acknowledgment and of the unspecified error by the owner of HT, GT now mentions the source – but the mistake is still there. Another case is the biography of Achille Braschi which is, according to GT, still “under construction”. There are, however, a few sentences about this tenor, of which every bit is taken from another article about Achille Braschi. On the positive side, the biographies written by Juan Dzazopulos are excellent. Mr. Dzazapulos also publishes on the other site HT.

Now the article section is practically dead and that the author and editor of the audio of the month section seems to be rather tired of writing for GT, as the audio of the month has completely stopped – and that the forum, full of American opera fans and amateur singers, is the only reason for why GT is still online.

Now GT has a new editor who promises a new look and new sections, but nothing has happened yet.

Now let look at the other sit HT. The HT website is the No. 1 tenor site on the internet. When one lands on the index page, we find a very well organized page with a navigation bar at the top showing:

New (site update), Tenors’ index, sound index, tenors’ operas, tenors’ vital records, non-tenor zone, articles, reviews and recollections, read/send comments, credits/thanks, cartoons, pearls of GT, links

New is a link to a page displaying the latest updates of the site with corresponding links. There you have also a link to an older updates page in case you missed the latest updates.

Tenors’ index shows a wide variety of indexes of singers divided in categories mostly in linguistic origins (Italian, Spanish/Portuguese, English. Asian, Eastern European and so on) with special categories such tenors could have recorded but did not, tenors that do nothing for the site etc

Sound index gives you all the sung material on the site by composer, opera and singer.

Tenors’ operas give cast listings some as far back as the 19th century for operas such Guillaume Tell, Il Trovatore etc

Tenors’ vital records give tenors birth and death dates

Non tenor-zone has interesting materials on non tenors, especially recommended a targeted comparison for the bass duet in Don Carlo.

Articles are divided into two categories one on singing by the great Baritone Joseph Shore and one with thought provoking articles by Daniele Godor on Calleja, Pavarotti and so on.

Many pictures of tenors, some very rare and unusual are shown on the sides of the index page and below the navigation bar.

It has reliable biographies and discographies about historical and modern tenors. As to tenors, the site is very extensive and even superior to Kutsch/Riemens’ cyclopedia. The site provides audio files of almost any tenor between De Reszke and Domingo for free. You can find information on Rubini showing that he was probably the tenor that sang more roles on stage, close to 200 roles. In the 19th century section you will find also information on Duprez, Nourrit, Abruñedo,, Fraschini and so on. The Italian and Eastern European sections are particularly filled with information on good tenors that have been forgotten with recordings, some unique. While on the modern front, you can find Antonenko, Calleja, Villazon, Pavarotti, Domingo, Carreras, Annaloro, Poncet, Florez and so on. The site is also filled with pictures not seen anywhere else. The site is also updated and or corrected as new information becomes available.

The site of choice is Historical Tenors.