Category Archives: Tenors

LUDWIG SUTHAUS, Tenor * 12 December 1906, Cologne, Germany + 7 September 1971, West Berlin;

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Ludwig Suthaus (December 12, 1906 – September 7, 1971) was a major German opera singer (“Heldentenor”), who was born in Cologne and died in West Berlin.

Ludwig Suthaus was a stonemason’s apprentice when his singing talent was first discovered. He subsequently started his voice studies at the age of seventeen in his hometown of Cologne. His teacher, Julius Lenz, originally mistook him for a baritone, but in 1928 Suthaus debuted as a tenor in Aachen in the role of Walther von Stolzing in Richard Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. From 1932 to 1941, he was engaged in Stuttgart, but was fired in 1942 because he would not join the Nazi party.[citation needed]

Suthaus subsequently got a new contract at the Berlin State Opera. After the war, in 1949, he switched from the State Opera – now based in East Berlin – to the “Städtische Oper” which was based in West Berlin, and remained a member of that company until the end of his career.

Since the end of the forties, Suthaus appeared regularly at the Vienna State Opera and as guest at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, London, La Scala, Milan, in Paris, Stuttgart, the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, in San Francisco and at Hamburg State Opera.

Beginning in 1943, he regularly appeared at the Bayreuth Festival where he sang Loge in “Das Rheingold”, Siegmund in Die Walküre and Walther von Stolzing in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, which was recorded (1943), Hermann Abendroth conducting.

Suthaus was one of Wilhelm Furtwängler’s favorite singers toward the end of Furtwängler’s life. With Furtwängler, Suthaus sang (Berlin, 1947) and recorded Tristan und Isolde (1952); Der Ring des Nibelungen as Siegfried (1953); and Die Walküre as Siegmund (1954) (Furtwängler’s last opera recording).

He had to quit his career suddenly after a car accident, and died at 64 years of age.

To some, Ludwig Suthaus’s voice did not have the radiance and vocal energy of Lauritz Melchior, but sounded slightly coarse and melancholic; however, it was not without deep-felt lyrical expressiveness when it was required. He was not perceived as a youthful hero, but was able to give some of his best performances when he sang broken characters. In his time he was not as widely appreciated as his contemporaries Günther Treptow, Max Lorenz or Ramón Vinay.

Today, his performance as Tristan in the Furtwängler recording is considered one of the best on record, next to those of Melchior, Windgassen and Jon Vickers.

Wagner, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Paul Schöffler, Friedrich Dalberg, Erich Kunz, Fritz Krenn, Ludwig Suthaus (Walther), Erich Witte, Hilde Scheppan, Camilla Kallab – Hermann Abendroth, conductor: Bayreuther Festspiele, 16 July 1943 (Preiser 90174 4CD mono)
Wagner, Tristan und Isolde, Ludwig Suthaus (Tristan), Gottlob Frick, Margarete Bäumer, Karl Wolfram, Erna Westenberger – Franz Konwitschny, conductor: Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, 21–23 October 1950 (Walhall Eternity Series WLCD 0118 3CD mono)
Wagner, Tristan und Isolde, Ludwig Suthaus (Tristan), Kirsten Flagstad, Blanche Thebom, Josef Greindl, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Rudolf Schock – Wilhelm Furtwängler, conductor: Philharmonia Orchestra, London, 10-21 & 23 June 1952 (EMI Classics 58587326 4CD mono)
Richard Wagner, Der Ring de Nibelungen, as Siegfried, RAI, 1953, Wilhelm Furtwängler.

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Ludwig Suthaus

Ludwig Suthaus   1956

Ludwig Suthaus 1956

Ludwig Suthaus als Radames Stuttgart 1937

Ludwig Suthaus as Radames Stuttgart 1937
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Posted by on December 13, 2017 in Tenors


GIACOMO LAURI-VOLPI, Tenor * 11 December 1892, Lanuvio, Italy + 17 March 1979, Valencia, Spain;

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Giacomo Lauri-Volpi (actual surname simply Volpi) was orphaned, together with the rest of his large family, when he was eleven years old. In Rome he studied law at La Sapienza University as well as singing at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia with the baritone Antonio Cotogni.

At the outbreak of World War I he enrolled in the Italian army, reaching the rank of captain by its close and being awarded the War Cross, Italy’s highest medal for military courage. Meanwhile he continued his vocal studies in Milan with Enrico Rosati and while still a member of the army made his debut under the name of Giacomo Rubini in 1919 at Viterbo as Arturo / I puritani. The following year he appeared under the name of Giacomo Lauri-Volpi at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome as des Grieux / Manon (Massenet) with success, followed by performances in Florence and Genoa.

So great was the impact of Lauri-Volpi’s singing that his reputation spread rapidly throughout Italy and beyond. During 1920 he appeared at Valencia and Saragossa; the following year he sang the Duke, Arturo, Rodolfo / La Bohème, Cavaradossi / Tosca and Fernando / La favorita at Madrid; and in 1922 made his debut at La Scala, Milan as the Duke opposite Toti dal Monte and Carlo Galeffi, with Toscanini conducting. Also that year he appeared at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Buenos Aires in a repertoire that included the Duke, des Grieux, Fernando, Cavaradossi, Rodolfo, Pinkerton / Madama Butterfly and Alfredo / La traviata.

From 1923 to 1933 Lauri-Volpi sang regularly at the Metropolitan Opera, New York. He made his debut as the Duke, while later notable appearances included Pedro in Vittadini’s Anima allegra (US premiere 1923); Calaf / Turandot (US premiere 1926) opposite Maria Jeritza; Licinio / La vestale (1926) and Pollione / Norma (1927) both opposite Rosa Ponselle; Rodolfo in the first American performances of Verdi’s Luisa Miller (1929) and Arnold / Guillaume Tell (1931). Other roles at the Met included Rodolfo, Alfredo, Cavaradossi, Count Almaviva / Il barbiere di Siviglia, Turiddù / Cavalleria rusticana, Pinkerton, Edgardo / Lucia di Lammermoor and Alim / Le Roi de Lahore (1924); the title roles in Andrea Chénier (1924), Montemezzi’s Giovanni Gallurese (1925) and Gounod’s Faust; Radamès / Aida, Vasco de Gama / L’Africaine and Enzo / La Gioconda (all 1926); Manrico / Il trovatore (1927) and Canio / Pagliacci (1928). While in the USA Lauri-Volpi also sang in Chicago at the Ravinia Festival (1923–1924) and with the San Francisco Opera (1929). He parted company with the Met, as did several other Italian singers, when fees were reduced as a consequence of the economic Depression.

At the Royal Opera House, London Lauri-Volpi made his debut as Chénier in 1925, returning in 1936 as the Duke. Other European appearances included the Paris Opera (1929–1930, 1935, 1948), the Vienna State Opera (1929, 1934, 1936) and the Verona Arena (1928, 1933, 1949) where he sang Raoul / Les Huguenots (1933). His principal base however was La Scala, where in 1929 he sang Arnold in the centenary performances of Guillaume Tell and took part the same year in the company’s famous tour to Berlin under Toscanini.

In 1935 Lauri-Volpi settled in Spain, henceforth appearing mainly in Italy and Spain. During 1942 he added the title role of Otello to his repertoire, giving seven performances only at La Scala and the San Carlo, Naples. A man of firm views, he leaned to the extreme right during the Fascist era but continued to sing throughout Europe and Italy after World War II, although by this time his voice was beginning to show its age. He made his formal stage farewell in 1959, as Manrico at the Rome Opera, but was still able to take part in a gala concert at Barcelona in 1972. He also wrote several books.

Lauri-Volpi’s voice was unusual in that he could tackle parts in the lyric, dramatic and heroic repertoires with distinction, giving to each richness of timbre, elegant phrasing and notable control of dynamics. It is possible however that the length of his career and his later recordings may have damaged his overall reputation. The bass Nazzareno de Angelis, after hearing him sing in Il trovatore at La Scala in 1933, sent him a telegram which stated: ‘…your Manrico, which is matchless, puts together drama, passion, phrasing and bel canto.’

Courtesy: The following biographical notes of Lauri-Volpi  comes from NAXOS.

Giacomo Lauri-Volpi as the Duke in Rigoletto

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Posted by on December 12, 2017 in Tenors


RAFAELO DÍAZ, Tenor * 16 May 1883, San Antonio + 12 December 1943, New York City;

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RAFAELO DÍAZ (1883–1943). Rafaelo Díaz, operatic tenor, was born in San Antonio on May 16, 1883. He was the son of Rafaelo and Rosa (Umscheid) Díaz. He was baptized Francisco Rafael Díaz but as an adult changed his name to Rafaelo Díaz. He received his early schooling at the German-English School in San Antonio and the West Texas Military Academy.qqv He showed musical talent at an early age and began his career as a pianist under the guidance of one of San Antonio’s pioneer music teachers, Miss Amalia Hander. After his promising voice was discovered while he was studying at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin, Díaz went to Italy to study under famous Italian maestro Vincenzo Sabatini. He returned to America and made his debut in the Boston Opera Company’s production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello. In 1917 he joined the Metropolitan Opera Company and performed leading tenor roles in Jules Massenet’s Thaïs and Nikolai Rimski-Korsakov’s Le Coq d’Or.

His stage presence and magnetic personality, along with his fine lyric tenor voice, kept him with the Metropolitan until 1936. He then toured the country with the Scotti Opera Company, making several stops in San Antonio along the way. In his spare time he made records for a leading phonograph company. He also conducted a series of concerts at the Waldorf-Astoria. Critics praised Díaz for his smooth performance, the depth and richness of his voice, the clarity of his enunciation, and the beauty of his phrasing. He sang in English, French, Spanish, Italian, and German, and was known as the “Lone Star Tenor of the Lone Star State.” He never married. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage in New York City on December 12, 1943.

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Posted by on December 12, 2017 in Tenors


CHARLES CRAIG, Tenor * 03 December 1919, London, England + 23 January 1997, Banburry, England;

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Charles James Craig (3 December 1919 – 23 January 1997) was an English operatic tenor. He received early encouragement from Sir Thomas Beecham, and sang in his 1952 recording of A Mass of Life by Frederick Delius. He was known as one of “the most Italianate of English operatic tenors”. From 1957 to 1980 he performed leading tenor roles at London’s Royal Opera House and English National Opera. One of his most famous roles was Verdi’s Otello, which he sang in Chicago, Vienna, Berlin, Naples, Munich, Venice, Salzburg, Turin, Lisbon, Düsseldorf.

Early life
Charles Craig was born in London, the youngest of 15 children. His parents were shopkeepers. Only an elder brother who owned a few opera records was interested in music. Craig first learned singing by listening to Caruso’s recording of “Vesti la giubba” from Pagliacci.

Charles Craig – Operatic Arias and Italian Songs. Label: Testament 1152.
Joan Hammond and Charles Craig Sing Opera Arias and Duets. Label: Testament 1153.
Verdi: Otello – Charles Craig (Otello), Rosalind Plowright (Desdemona), Neil Howlett (Iago), Shelagh Squires (Emilia), Bonaventura Bottone (Cassio); English National Opera Orchestra and Chorus; Mark Elder (conductor). Live recording, London 1983; remastered release 2001. Label: Chandos Records CD
Charles Craig also recorded Il trovatore, The Land of Smiles, Un ballo in maschera, and The Student Prince (highlights).

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Charles Craig and Peter Ebert at opening of Theatre Royal

Charles Craig and Peter Ebert at opening of Theatre Royal

Charles Craig


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Posted by on December 3, 2017 in Tenors


HANS HEINZ BOLLMANN, Tenor * 01 December 1889, Hamburg, Germany + 09 July 1974, Hamburg, Germany;

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Remembering HANS HEINZ BOLLMANN (1889 – 1974) on his birthday !

German tenor with a fine voice, used with great elegance and intelligence. He started his career singing opera roles in his native Hamburg, but soon became well known for operetta, particularly in Berlin and Vienna, and he became a famous star of radio during the 1930s.

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Hans Heinz Bollmann and Fritz Schulz

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Posted by on December 1, 2017 in Tenors


JOHN BRECKNOCK, Tenor * 29 November 1937, Long Eaton, Derbyshire, England, UK + 30 May 2017, Benissa, Alicante, Spain;

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He trained at the Birmingham Music School with Frederic Sharp and Denis Dowling, and made his stage debut at Salder’s Wells Opera in 1967 as Alfred in “die Fledermaus”. Fenton was his first role at Covent Garden in 1974. Tamino at the Metropolitan opera and Don Ramiro in Paris in 1977. Almaviva in Vienna in 1978. His roles included Don Ottavio, Belmonte, Werther, the title character in “Le Comte Ory”, Berlioz’ Benedict, Romeo, Edgardo, the Duke, Alfred. and Anatolij in the English premiere of Prokofiev’s “‘War and Peace”.

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For more information about Tenor John Brecknock, please vist at

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Posted by on November 30, 2017 in Tenors


ERNST HAEFLIGER, Tenor * 06 July 1919, Davos, Switzerland + 17 March 2007, Davos, Switzerland;

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Ernst Haefliger was one of the better known and more versatile tenors of his day. He was impressive both on the operatic stage and as a recitalist, and in each of these realms his repertory was broad, from Baroque era (J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and St. John Passion) to the contemporary (Boris Blacher’s Zwischenfälle bei einer Notlandung). Haefliger received high praise for his Schubert lieder, particularly for Winterreise and Die schöne Müllerin. His 1949 Salzburg Festival debut as Tiresias in Orff’s Antigonae received critical acclaim. Haefliger was probably best known for his Mozart (Pamina, Ferrando, Don Ottavio, and others), and for his portrayals of the Evangelist in the Bach Passions. He was one of the first tenors to record Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde in stereo (Bruno Walter, conducting; 1960). The tone of Haefliger’s voice, while appealing, was generally regarded as not particularly outstanding; yet, because of his precision in articulation and deft sense for phrasing, he achieved a vocal style quite unforgettable, quite distinct from other tenors of his generation. Though most of his recordings are decades old, many remain available on Philips (the largest source), Decca, Sony, DG, Naxos, Orfeo, Berlin Classics, Preiser Records, Testament, and other labels.

Ernst Haefliger was born in Davos, Switzerland, on July 6, 1919. He studied at the Zurich Conservatory and at the Geneva Conservatory, where his most important teacher was Fernando Capri; he later took vocal lessons in Vienna from iconic tenor Julius Patzak. Haefliger debuted in 1942 in Geneva singing the Evangelist in the St. John Passion. The following year he joined the Zurich Opera, remaining there until 1952.

From 1952-1974 he was a member of the Deutsche Oper, but frequently appeared at other major operatic venues and in recitals and orchestral concerts. Many important debuts took place during this 22-year run, including at Glyndebourne (1956) singing Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Chicago’s Lyric Opera (1966), in the same role, and Moscow (1968) as the Evangelist.

Haefliger remained active well past his 1972 retirement from the Deutsche Oper. In fact, he was singing Schubert’s Winterreise in recital as late as 1995 (London’s Wigmore Hall), when he was 76! Even after he finally retired from singing, Haefliger made concert appearances in speaking roles, as in the 2002 performance of Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder at the Proms (in London), where he was narrator. Haefliger died in Davos on March 17, 2007.

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Biography by Robert Cummings

Photo courtesy: All Music

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Posted by on November 29, 2017 in Tenors

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