Tenor

The tenor is the highest of the male voices. The range is similar to that of the soprano but sounds an octave lower. The tenor voice has a brilliant and ringing quality with strength in the upper part of the range. Unlike the soprano, a tenor can carry the heavy registration up through the middle voice with very little transition until the passaggio, which occurs around F or F on the treble staff.

FIGURE 8-4. General tenor range and tessitura

Remember that his voice sounds an octave lower than the written range.

Tenor Roles

Tenors are often the leading men in theater and opera. It's a popular voice type that tends to get a great deal of attention from an audience. Think of the celebrity status of the Three Tenors. Some tenor roles in musical theater are Tony in West Side Story, Chris in Miss Saigon, Jean Valjean in Les Misérables, and Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar. Opera roles include Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly, Radamés in Aida, Alfredo in La Traviata, and Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor.

Some Famous Tenors

These men have become standouts in the tenor range.

Classical tenors:

  • Luciano Pavarotti

  • Plácido Domingo

  • José Carreras

  • Enrico Caruso

Musical theater tenors:

  • Michael Crawford

  • Colm Wilkinson

Popular music tenors:

  • Andrea Bocelli

  • Elton John

  • Jon Bon Jovi

  • Justin Timberlake

  • Usher

  • Clay Aiken

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