Tenore di grazia, also called leggero tenor[a] (graceful, light, and lightweight tenor, respectively), is a lightweight, flexible tenor voice type.[2][3] The tenor roles written in the early 19th-century Italian operas are invariably leggero tenor roles, especially those by Rossini such as Lindoro in L'italiana in Algeri, Don Ramiro in La Cenerentola, and Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia; and those by Bellini such as Gualtiero in Il pirata, Elvino in La sonnambula and Arturo in I puritani.[4][5][6] Many Donizetti roles, such as Nemorino in L'elisir d'amore and Ernesto in Don Pasquale, Tonio in La fille du régiment, are also tenore di grazia roles. One of the most famous leggero tenors of that period was Giovanni Battista Rubini, for whom Bellini wrote nearly all his operas.[7][8][9]

Classification and range

The tenor leggero voice is often misclassified. There are several reasons for this, the first being the lower register of the leggero tenor.[10][11][12][13] The leggero tenor can go quite low, approximately to G below low C G2.[14][15] Because of this, the leggero tenor is often misclassified as a baritone, normally a lyric baritone.[16][17] This voice might also be classified as another type of tenor such as dramatic tenor. However, the leggero tenor possesses something that the other tenors do not: an upper extension that when not fully developed, sounds almost like a falsetto.[18] This "falsetto" however is part of a full voice mechanism and is more connected to what appears to sound like the full voice than a falsetto would.[19][20][self-published source] The upper extension normally starts around A-flat below Tenor High C and goes up to as high as the singer is comfortable with, normally E above High C and sometimes to F or G.[19][21][22] The highest vocal range needed in opera for this voice type is F above Tenor High C.[23][24] This is sung as part of the role of Arturo in I puritani.[25][26][27][28]

The light French lyric tenor is also often confused with the leggero tenor.[29][30] Examples of the French tradition of a light and lyrical voice can be found in roles such as Georges Brown in La dame blanche, Chapelou in Le postillon de Lonjumeau, Nadir in Les pêcheurs de perles, Vincent in Mireille, and Gérald in Lakmé.[3][22][31][32][33]



  1. ^ Often also called leggiero tenor,[1] although that is not an Italian term.


  1. ^ "The Tenor Voice – Lyrischer (hoher) tenor (c to c)", ipasource.com
  2. ^ Soreanu, Cristina. "Nineteenth Century’s Donizettian Singers and their Contribution to the Development of the Vocal Technique." Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Braşov, Series VIII: Performing Arts 2 (2014): 124–130.
  3. ^ a b Enrico Stinchelli (2002). Le stelle della lirica: i grandi cantanti della storia dell'opera. Gremese Editore. pp. 19–. ISBN 978-88-8440-192-2.
  4. ^ Kent Carlson (2000). The leggero tenor in opera: 1754–1793. Garri Editions.
  5. ^ Richard Boldrey; Janet Bookspan; Carol Kimball (1992). Singers' edition, operatic arias: soubrette. Pst. ISBN 9781877761034.
  6. ^ George Henry Hubert Lascelles Earl of Harewood (2000). Opera. Rolls House Publishing Company.
  7. ^ Walker, Evan. "The Fable of Adolphe Nourrit." Journal of Singing 64.4 (2008): 411.
  8. ^ Nicholas Till (18 October 2012). The Cambridge Companion to Opera Studies. Cambridge University Press. pp. 131–. ISBN 978-0-521-85561-7.
  9. ^ Storia della musica. Editoriale Jaca Book. 1995. pp. 296ff. ISBN 978-88-16-43917-7.
  10. ^ May, Joshua M. "The Rise of the Tenor Voice in the Late Eighteenth Century: Mozart’s Opera and Concert Arias." (2014).
  11. ^ Brent, Joseph (18 December 2014). Giovanni Paolo Bottesini as a composer for the tenor voice, as seen in his writing for Roberto Stagno, Angelo Masini, and Alberto Bozetti (PDF) (DMA). University of Georgia.
  12. ^ Michael Edward Henstock (20 September 1990). Fernando De Lucia: son of Naples : 1860–1925. Duckworth. ISBN 978-0-7156-2325-1.
  13. ^ Dan H. Marek (6 June 2013). Giovanni Battista Rubini and the Bel Canto Tenors: History and Technique. Scarecrow Press. pp. 8ff. ISBN 978-0-8108-8668-1.
  14. ^ Opera. Rolls House Publishing Company. March 2008.
  15. ^ Opera. Rolls House Publishing Company. March 2008. pp. 127ff.
  16. ^ Arthur Elson (1915). The Book of Musical Knowledge: The History, Technique, and Appreciation of Music, Together with Lives of the Great Composers, for Music-lovers, Students and Teachers. Houghton Mifflin.
  17. ^ Richard Boldrey; Robert Caldwell; Roger Pines; Janet Bookspan (1 June 1992). Singers' edition, operatic arias: lyric soprano, light lyric soprano. Pst. ISBN 9781877761027.
  18. ^ Helena Matheopoulos (1 November 1986). Divo: great tenors, baritones, and basses discuss their roles. Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0-06-015634-3.
  19. ^ a b Dan Marek (2007). Singing: The First Art. Scarecrow Press. pp. 37ff. ISBN 978-0-8108-5711-7.
  20. ^ Francois Nouvion (October 2012). Asile Hereditaire: The Life and Career of John O'Sullivan. Xlibris Corporation. pp. 411ff. ISBN 978-1-4771-5123-5.
  21. ^ Naomi Adele André (1 January 2006). Voicing Gender: Castrati, Travesti, and the Second Woman in Early-nineteenth-century Italian Opera. Indiana University Press. pp. 127ff. ISBN 0-253-34644-4.
  22. ^ a b Laura Williams Macy (2008). The Grove Book of Opera Singers. Oxford University Press. pp. 136ff. ISBN 978-0-19-533765-5.
  23. ^ Dorothea Link (2011). Arias for Vincenzo Calvesi: Mozart's first Ferrando. A-R Editions. pp. 15ff. ISBN 978-0-89579-717-9.
  24. ^ Herbert Kupferberg (8 November 1988). The book of classical music lists. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-011188-0.
  25. ^ Enciclopedia della musica. Rizzoli Ricordi. 1972.
  26. ^ Roger Alier Aixalà; Roger Alier (1 January 2002). Historia de la ópera. Ediciones Robinbook. pp. 180ff. ISBN 978-84-95601-66-7.
  27. ^ Friedrich Lippmann [in German] (1972). Bericht. Böhlau Verlag. ISBN 978-3-412-96772-7.
  28. ^ BBC Music Magazine. BBC Magazines. 2008.
  29. ^ Robert Cannon (16 February 2012). Opera. Cambridge University Press. pp. 391ff. ISBN 978-0-521-76302-8.
  30. ^ Helena Matheopoulos (28 September 1999). The great tenors: from Caruso to the present. Vendome Press. ISBN 9780865652033.
  31. ^ John Sullivan Dwight (1865). Dwight's Journal of Music. D.L. Balch. pp. 128ff.
  32. ^ Gustav Kobbé (3 October 2014). The Complete Opera Book (Illustrated). B & R Samizdat Express. ISBN 978-1-4554-4648-3.
  33. ^ RM, rassegna musicale italiana. Rassegna musicale italiana. 1997.

Further reading