Category Archives: Tenors

Donald Smith – The Great Australian Tenor

Donald Smith (1920-98) was the finest tenor Australia has yet to produce. Born in Queensland he served 7 months in a juvenile detention center for driving a car (not his) with some friends; he was 12 at the time. He worked as a sugar cane cutter for several years. In 1941 he enlisted in the…


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Franco Corelli – 100 Years

Franco Corelli was born in April of 1921 in Ancona on the Adriatic coast. He decided to pursue an musical career later than most singers. After two unsuccessful encounters with voice teachers he resolved to train himself by intense study of the recordings of the great Italian tenors who had preceded him. After winning the…


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Henri Legay

Henri Legay (1920-92) was a French tenor whose career was mostly based in Paris. For a while he supported himself singing while accompanying himself with a guitar at Parisian cabarets. He composed some of the songs he sang. He also played for Edith Piaf and Ives Montand. in 1947 he received a first prize from…


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Giuseppe Borgatti

Giuseppe Borgatti (1871-1950) was Italy’s first heldentenor. He was born and raised in rural northern Italy. Apparently he grew up illiterate. His voice was discovered during his compulsory military service. A wealthy patron sponsored both his musical and reading lessons. He made his operatic debut at age 21 as Gounod’s Faust. He became famous when…


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Francesco Merli

Francesco Merli (1887-1976) was born on a farm near Milan. He showed vocal ability at an early age, but did not pursue vocal studies aside from a few scattered lessons. His first job was as a janitor in a school. He entered a vocal competition sponsored by the conductor Cleofonte Campanini in 1914. He was…


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Mario Lanza – 100th Birthday

For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, ‘It might have been’. John Greenleaf Whittier January 31, 2021 is the 100th anniversary of the birth Alfredo Arnold Cocozza known to posterity as Mario Lanza; Lanza was his mother’s maiden name. A native of Philadelphia, he was the son of Italian immigrants…


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Richard Crooks

Richard Crooks (1900-72) was an American tenor. Born in New Jersey he started his singing career as an oratorio specialist. He studied with baritone Leon Rothier and vocal coach Frank La Forge. In 1927 he went to Germany where he made his operatic debut as Cavaradossi in Tosca. In 1930 he made his American operatic…


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No! Pagliaccio Non Son

Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci was first performed at Milan’s Teatro Dal Verme in 1892 – Arturo Toscanini conducted. It rapidly spread throughout the operatic world and like its frequent partner, Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, it was its composer’s only unalloyed success. The opera’s protagonist, Canio leader of a band of itinerant performers, is married to a much younger…


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Le Rêve

Massenet’s Manon was first performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris in 1884. It rapidly became a staple of the operatic repertory and has remained so to this day. I’m ignoring the shuttered state of everything public at present. The opera has two big roles. The title character and her hormone addled lover the Chevalier Des…


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Yossele Rosenblatt

When I was a kid in New York, Yossele Rosenblatt (1882-1933) was a figure whose memory was still fresh. There were many who had heard him sing and spoke about his voice in the same awed tones as did opera goers who remembered Caruso. Rosenblatt was a Ukrainian born chazzan (cantor) who came from a…


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