The above is the title of a web site devoted to tenors and their recorded legacy. It contains material compiled by the late operaphile Sydney Rhys Barker (1928 – 2005). The site, still under construction, was assembled by Mr Barker’s son Sidney. The material on the site spans most of the 20th century – 1900 to 1990.  This is the description of its purpose given by the younger Barker:

My father, Sydney Rhys Barker was an opera lover from the age of 8. Opera was his great love and he collected records his entire life.

In the late 1980’s someone asked him to put together a cassette tape of highlights from some of his favorite singers.

My father spent the next 2 years recording what was to become “The History of the Tenor”.

He produced twenty-eight 90 minute tapes for a total of 42 hours of narration with clips from his substantial record collection and had access to several others through friends and opera lovers he had known since he was a boy.

These tapes were handed over to me by my mother after my fathers death in 2005 and it seems to me that these treasures should be available to those who shared in this great hobby of his.

It is my hope to try to make all of these sound clips available to anyone who wishes to hear them, it is information he collected over 45 years – of which I have little idea.

But I thank all and everyone who may have contributed in advance on his behalf.

These are the sole opinions of my father and I can only assume that they are as comprehensive a collection as can be made.

Opera was not something I inherited from him, but I do know if he did something – he did it with great enthusiasm, integrity and passion.

Anyone interested in opera in general and tenors in particular will gain great pleasure browsing through the vocal  archives assembled by both Barkers. While there are some errors here and there (eg, Chaliapin is listed as a tenor, La Juive is translated as The Jew rather than The Jewess, Di Stefano’s recording of Federico’s Lament from L’Arlesiana is the 1944 version with piano rather than the 1947 recording with orchestra), there’s nothing serious enough to distract you from the site’s cornucopia of audio.

Highly recommended. Worth perusing.

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