Lend me an Italian tenor

Lend me an Italian tenor


norman lebrecht

February 18, 2016

Rome Opera has launched a young artist programme in a bid to address the lack of Italian singers – tenors most particularly. It’s not just talent that’s lacking; it’s looks – and application.

Elisabeth Braw reports on the shortage in this week’s Economist:

Ernesto Palacio, a Peruvian tenor and veteran artist manager, has noticed the change during several decades living in Italy. “There are good voices in Italy,” he says, “but many of them think a good voice is enough and don’t want to learn the other aspects such as acting.” With the proliferation of opera simulcasts, opera singers are expected to act well and look good too. Despite his glorious voice, Pavarotti may not have made the cut today.

Read the full article here.

pavarotti (1)


  • V.Lind says:

    So we would have been deprived of that voice because Pav was portly? All the other aspects in Christendom are ancillary to the voice. Yes, acting has to be taught and learned, and the exercise of putting down the knife and fork should be encouraged for those chasing screen time (though I doubt the premium-priced films of opera live or on encore attract the looks-trump-everything fans of rom-coms and dumb and dumberer movies). But in the end, the record is the record (or the CD, or streamed recording or whatever) and at that point the voice is ALL.

    • Milka says:

      The last time I saw Pavarotti he was not portly ,he looked like a beached whale …
      Ruined the the staging as it was designed to his hardly being able to move about .
      You had two things going on : the main cast doing the opera and the morbidly
      obese creature doing his constricted moving about and equally constricted singing.
      But hey !!!! good or bad it was Pavarotti …. there is a point where it becomes parody.

    • Greg from SF says:

      I must agree with Milka here.
      Pavarotti’s voice WAS beautiful when he was young and when he still practiced and kept his body in shape.
      Towards the end, morbidly obese, sweaty, and pathetic, he no longer met even the lowest standards of musical professionalism. He couldn’t sustain notes of any length, his range was constricted, and his intonation was – to be kind – wayward. He could no longer articulate rhythmic passages. The very timbre of his voice deteriorated.
      Pav, and it’s the later Pav I’m referring to, certainly would NOT have “made the cut” today.
      It’s not rocket science to realize that a singer’s instrument IS his/her body, and it must be kept in good physical condition.
      I’m not one of those “get them off the stage if they are overweight” people, but Big Lucy crossed WAY over the line.
      And V. Lind: to quote the great Bruno Labatte: “You talka too much!)

      • Greg from SF says:

        * please replace final parenthesis with quotation mark

        • Steven Hill says:

          To hear what Pavarotti was like in his early career, seek out the 1969 recording of L’amico Fritz (with Freni). I played “ed anche Beppo amo…” to a friend without telling her who is was. She enquired of the singer and on learning it was Pavarotti, responded “Oh, what a waste!”.

  • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

    Maybe a tenor search sponsored by Armani or Ferragamo or Missoni might end the blight…? Still, I prefer un bella voce above una Bella figura. Or: prima la musica, dopo le figure.