|Leo Slezak (1873 – 1946), tenor opera singer and actor |
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We all know how thrilling it is to hear a live professional opera singer. Even on a recording, it is something quite special, but nothing really beats seeing and hearing a professional opera singer in the flesh.
A tenor is the second highest male voice with the highest being the countertenor. As with any operatic voice type, each voice has several sub-categories. There is the lyric tenor who sings a lot of Puccini and Verdi, there is the Mozartian tenor, and the Heldentenor who sings Wagner to name but a few. In this article, we will take a look at some types of tenor voice types, and name some popular, very difficult, tenor arias relating to those voices.
1. Di quella pira from Verdi's Il Trovatore
This is a dramatic aria, both in character and plot-wise. When Manrico (the dramatic tenor singing this aria) learns that his mother, Acuzena, is about to be burnt at the stake, he gathers all his soldiers around him and tells them what has to be done. Manrico is outraged and Verdi conveys this through his music. You can hear his anger and the sense of drama is heightened by the rhythm. This aria isn't demanding in the sense that it doesn't have lots of high Cs, yet it is one of the most difficult ones in the operatic repertoire. It requires the tenor to have real muscle to his sound and when the high C finally comes, it is worth the wait! This aria is sung by a dramatic tenor and when you hear it, you understand why.
2. Ah mes amis from Donizetti's La Fille du Regiment
This aria certainly has high C's. Ah mes amis, sometimes referred to as the ten high Cs aria, is filled with them. The character of this aria is light, melodic and beautiful. Of course, it is thrilling as you just can't wait for the high Cs to come. This aria requires an easy high lying tenor voice, namely a light tenor.
3. Che gelida manina by Puccini from La Bohème
This is a classic tenor aria from one of the most loved operas ever written. This piece, as well as most other arias and duets from La Bohème, are pieces you often come across at opera galas, corporate entertainment events, and singing waiter performances. The hero, Rodolfo, has just met the love of his life, Mimì (a lyric soprano), and sings of how cold her hand is. It is sensitive, has beautiful melodic vocal lines and a lush, rich orchestration. This would be sung by a lyric tenor.
There is nothing that beats the experience of hearing a professional opera singer live. Hopefully, the time you next go to an opera gala, an operatic corporate entertainment event, or even a performance at an opera house, you will feel you know a little bit more about the tenor voice.