Voice Types in Opera - Tenor                                                                                                                         Operamania.com


Voice Type Video Extracted from
Light-lyric tenor

Luigi Alva

Fritz Wunderlich

Juan Diego Florez

Francisco Araiza


  Luigi Alva - Ecco ridente...

Lyric tenor

Alfredo Kraus

Luciano Pavarotti

Nicolai Gedda



Alfredo Kraus - Je crois entendre encore (video clip not extracted from Audio CD)

Lyric-dramatic tenor

Jose Carreras

Giuseppe DiStefano

Jussi Bjorling

Carlo Bergonzi

Richard Tucker



Jose Carreras - Che gelida manina

Dramatic tenor

Mario del Monaco

Franco Corelli

Placido Domingo

Jose Cura

Franco Corelli -  Un dì all'azzurro spazio


Jon Vickers

Wolfgang Windgassen

Lauritz Melchior

Siegfried Jerusalem

James King

Rene Kollo


Rene Kollo - Forestan's aria

Tenor--the highest of the male voices, the tenor has as many sub-categories as the soprano.

Light-lyric tenor--depending on the repertoire, these voices are often called leggiero tenors or "Rossini" tenors. Roles include Almaviva in The Barber of Seville, Ramiro in Cinderella and Lindoro in The Italian Girl in Algiers. The voice has, like the coloratura soprano, an upper extension of high notes and a lightness of quality that allows for rapid passagework and florid ornamentation.

Lyric tenor--with not quite the high register of the light-lyric tenor, this voice category is well represented in the 19th century repertoire with Elvino in La sonnambula, and Nadir in The Pearl Fishers. Depending on the taste of the impresario or general director of a company, some of the Mozart roles can be sung by lyric tenors: Ferrando in Così fan tutte, Tamino in The Magic Flute, even Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, although this is usually cast heavier.

Lyric-dramatic tenor--these roles, while still essentially lyric, demand some dramatic color and fire: Rodolfo in La bohème, the Duke in Rigoletto, Alfredo in La traviata and Faust are to be included.

Dramatic tenor--also called tenore di forza in Italian, Chénier and Alvaro in La forza del destino are dramatic tenor roles that require a spinto quality, able to carry over heavy orchestral textures with ease. The tenore robusto, however, must carry with it a certain baritonal 'weight' and color: Otello is such a role, and Ernani and Manrico were originally considered as part of the robusto tradition even though the roles are not always cast that way today.

Heldentenor--this is the dramatic tenor of the German repertoire, a voice type that must have a distinctive 'ring', weight and spin to portray heroic roles such as Lohengrin (on the lighter side) and Tristan or Siegfried (on the heavier side). One must not forget Florestan in Fidelio, a heroic German role that was a forerunner to the musical and dramatic demands of the Wagnerian roles.

The list of singers given as examples for each of the voice types is not obviously meant to be exhaustive, and many great singers are missing. Also note that some of the great stars expanded their repertoire well beyond a single voice type. Placido Domingo, as an example, has interpreted roles from Lyric to Dramatic tenor or even Heldentenor wagnerian roles (even he has recorded Figaro baritone role in The Barber of Seville). Jon Vicker is another example of a Heldentenor that has successfully addressed some of the heaviest cast of the Italian repertoire (Otello, Radames...)

Soprano Mezzo / Contralto Baritone / Bass

(c) Text reproduced with permission from www.operapaedia.org and San Diego Opera