Category Archives: Tenors

KARL ERB, Tenor * 13 July 1877, Ravensburg, Germany + 13 July 1958, Ravensburg, Germany;


Karl Erb (13 July 1877 – 13 July 1958) was a German tenor. Born in Ravensburg, he was engaged at the Stuttgart opera house at the age of 30. His performance in Pfitzner’s “Der arme Heinrich” led to his bigger career at the Munich Hofoper. Rarely appearing outside of Germany, his repertoire ranged from Mozart to Donizetti, Verdi and Wagner. Quite difficult to categorize. Marriage to soprano Maria Ivogun made them the darling opera couple of the era. His Evangelist in Bach’s Passions is well received to this day.


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Posted by on July 13, 2018 in Tenors


TIGRAN LEVONYAN, Tenor * 14 December 1936, Beirut, Lebanon + 25 June 2004, Yerevan, Armenia;


Tigran Levoni Levonyan (Khandikyan, Armenian: Տիգրան Լևոնյան; 1936–2004) was an Armenian operatic tenor and director, Professor of Yerevan State Conservatory. People’s Artist of Armenia (1984). He was the husband of Gohar Gasparyan and brother of director Armen Khandikyan.

Tigran Levonyan was born in Beirut and repatriated as a child to Armenia in 1946. He graduated from Yerevan Academy of Fine Arts and Russian Academy of Theatre Arts, then gained experience at the La Scala theater.

In 1962 he became the soloist of the National Theater of Opera and Ballet of Armenia performing the roles of Saro (opera “Anush” by Tigranian), Tirith (“Arshak II” by Chuhajyan), Othello (“Othello” by Verdi), Canio (Pagliacci), Carlos (Don Carlos), Alfred (La Traviata), Shahumyan (David Bek), Manrico (Trubadur), Cavaradossi (Toska) with great depth of dramatic feeling, impressive acting and a delicate interpretation of direction.

From 1991 to 1999 he was the artistic director of Yerevan Opera Theater. In those years, the theater staged the following operas directed by Levonyan: Verdi “Othello”, Tigranyan “Anush”, “David Beck”, Chuhajyan “Arshak II” and “Karine”. He was the first to create opera films in Armenia (Almast, Arshak II, and Palmetto).

On the occasion of 1700th anniversary of Christianity in Armenia, he staged open air performances of Anush and Palmetto at Zvartnots Cathedral.


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Posted by on June 26, 2018 in Tenors


WEBSTER BOOTH, Tenor * 21 January 1902, Handsworth, West Midlands, Birmingham, United Kingdom + 21 June 1984, Penrhyn Bay, United Kingdom;


Performed with the D’Oyly Carte Company from 1923 and in the 1930s
turned to concert and oratorio performances. His career included performances at Covent Garden, musical comedy and over 1000 radio and television broadcasts. Appearing in several films (the first one was Invader starring Buster Keaton), he met Anne Ziegler, his second wife, on the set of the film of Faust, the title role of which he performed – she was singing Marguerite. They toured the world in the 1940s and 50s as a popular vocal duo.


Webster Booth and Ann Ziegler

Anne & Webster in the mid-forties (1)

Webster Booth and Ann Ziegler, Mid-Forties

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Posted by on June 7, 2018 in Tenors


MARIO CHAMLEE, Tenor * 29 May 1892, Los Angeles, California, United States + 13 November 1966, Los Angeles, California, United States;


Mario Chamlee (1892-1966) was born Archer Cholmondeley in Los Angeles. The son of a minister, Chamlee graduated from University of Southern California in 1914, where he earned a science degree. He also dabbled in singing while at USC and studied voice in Los Angeles and New York. Using the stage name “Mario Rodolfi”, the young tenor made his debut as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor for the Lombardi Opera Company.

Chamlee’s budding operatic career was interrupted when he was inducted into the service during WWI. After returning home, he resumed his artistic efforts in New York and appeared in several productions with the Scotti Opera Company during the 1919/1920 season. Catching the attention of the Metropolitan Opera, he was soon put under contract, making his debut as Cavaradossi in Tosca in November of 1920. Sadly, Chamlee had the misfortune to begin his MET career during the final few weeks of Caruso’s tenure there. In fact, Chamlee appeared as Pinkerton in the Christmas Eve matinee of Madama Butterfly that preceded Caruso’s unforeseen swansong in La Juive that same evening. Needless to say, Chamlee’s debut season was overshadowed by the tragic events that were to unfold in the weeks and months to come

Singing the role of Christian in the U.S. premiere of Weis’ “The Polish Jew”, Chamlee (lumped together with the rest of the cast) was described by Richard Aldrich of the New York Times as “…only moderately competent…” In the very next season, however, Oscar Thompson, reviewing the MET’s La Bohème for Musical America, praised Chamlee’s “Caruso quality” and went on to opine that, “If he were an Italian, he would be a celebrity now.” Chamlee went on to sing 168 performances of twenty-two operas, including Tosca, Rigoletto, La Traviata, Mefistofele, Faust, Manon, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Boris Godunov, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, L’Africaine, La Gioconda and Cavalleria Rusticana. There were also over fifty Sunday Night concerts and special events, as well as a single Verdi Requiem. However, assuming the mantle of Caruso did not seem to be an honor reserved for him. The MET was brimming with world class tenors during the 1920s…Gigli, Martinelli, Lauri-Volpi, Schipa…and Chamlee struggled to gain a foothold.

After the 1927/28 season, Chamlee was conspicuously absent from the MET roster for a few seasons. The tenor busied himself with appearances in San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Prague, Paris, Vienna, Brussels and Vienna. When he returned to the MET in 1933, it was for Gatti-Casazza’s 25th Anniversary Gala. Chamlee sang the Act I duet from Madama Butterfly with Thalia Sabanieeva in what is probably best described as a conceptual staging. The couple sang in silhouette, behind a screen and with their backs to the audience, while stagehands played cards. A year later, he was invited back for the Operatic Surprise Party of 1934. The tenor was given even less to do this time…he joined the entire company for a rousing chorus of “Hail, Hail the Gang’s All Here.”

Chamlee sang three more seasons with the MET between 1936 and 1939. Although Rabaud’s opera Mârouf was revived for Chamlee (for which he received some of the best reviews of his career), the tenor was now mainly relegated to contemporary works such as Menotti’s Amelia Goes to the Ball and Richard Hageman’s Caponsacchi, which gave him little chance to shine. Weary of what he perceived as a lack of respect from the MET’s management, Chamlee quietly allowed his contract to expire. At the relatively early age of 47, Mario Chamlee decided to bid farewell to the opera stage.

Chamlee and his wife, the former Ruth Miller (a soprano who had sung with Chamlee in the early days of their careers as “Francesca Milena”), returned to his native Los Angeles, where they opened a successful voice studio. Mario Chamlee spent a busy quarter of a century in his studio until his death on November 13, 1966.

Chamlee’s recording career spanned most of the 1920s and yielded dozens of discs. Here, Chamlee sings the old tenor warhorse, “‘O sole mio”. This Neapolitan favorite was recorded in 1920 for the Brunswick label in New York.

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Posted by on May 30, 2018 in Tenors


MICHEL SÉNÉCHAL, Tenor * 11 February 1927, Paris, France + 01 April 2018, Eaubonne, France;


Tenor Michel Sénéchal has passed away at the age of 91 on April 1, 2018.

The international singer who hailed from France was known for his work in the French and Italian repertoire, ranging from Baroque to contemporary works. Sénéchal maintained a stable career in Paris and Brussels and also appeared in Salzburg and Glyndebourne. He also made debuts at the Aix-en-Provence Festival and at the Vienna State Opera.

Among the operas he performed included “La Dame Blanche,” “Les Indes Galantes,” “Il Matrimonio Segreto,” “Il Barbiere di Siviglia,” “Le Comte Ory,” and “Les Contes d’Hoffmann.” He also performed in numerous operettas including “Orphée aux Enfers,” “La Vie Parisienne,” and “La Périchole.”

After retiring from singing, he went on to teach at the “L’École d’art lyrique” of the Paris Opéra in 1979, and was eventually named director of the school.

He made several recordings and can be heard on “La Dame Blanche,” “Mireille,” and “Thaïs,” made in the early 1960s.



MI0003454696 (1)

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Posted by on May 28, 2018 in Tenors


JEFFREY LAWTON, Tenor * 11 December 1938, Oldham Lancashire England + 4 May 2018, England;


R.I.P JEFFREY LAWTON (1938 – 2018)

Famous opera singer and Middletonian, Jeffrey Lawton, died on Friday 4 May, at the age of 78.

Jeffrey was born in Oldham on 11 December 1939 and began his singing performance in the chorus of Patience at age 16 in Woodhouse’s production of Patience.

At aged 19, the director asked Jeffrey to sing the lead tenor in Patience for Long Street Gilbert & Sullivan’s Society in Middleton. At this venue, Jeffrey met his future wife, Ann. The Lawtons have lived and raised their family in Middleton for the past 59 years.

Jeffrey’s singing career took him all over the world and he appeared on TV interviewed by Sir Michael Parkinson.

Jeffrey began his singing career at the Welsh National Opera as a contract artist. At the age of 41 Jeffrey sang regularly with the Welsh National Opera company and has sung with all the major British opera houses. He performed at Albert Hall proms, broadcasts and regular charity concerts in Middleton.

Jeffrey became more known in Middleton after taking over at 24-hours’ notice from Plácido Domingo as Othello at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden in 1990.

He sang internationally in Canada, the United States, Argentina, Israel, France, Holland, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Scotland and Germany.

A former student at the Royal Manchester College of Music, Jeffrey taught and mentored young singers at the Royal Northern College of Music, an amalgamation of his former educators and the Northern School of Music.

He was also awarded a Fellowship at the College, which incidentally Plácido Domingo also received.

Jeffrey was very active in Middleton, raising money to help people by performing concerts and was also as a member of the Rotary Club of Middleton, where he was Rotary President twice.

Janice Powell, President of Middleton Rotary Club said: “Jeff will be much missed by all.

“Jeff had been a Rotarian since November 1989, so a long serving member indeed.”

Bev Yarwood, Middleton Rotary, said: “I was saddened to hear of the recent death of Jeff, a long serving, popular and much respected Rotarian.

“He made me laugh, he made me smile; always kind and interested in what I had to say.

“A true gentleman.”

Jeffrey’s funeral will take place on Thursday 17 May 11-12 at Blackley Crematorium. Family flowers only please, donations will be welcome for Springhill Hospice.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sitting and indoor

Photo credit: Tyler Cooper

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Posted by on May 27, 2018 in Tenors


RICHARD LEWIS, Tenor * 10 May 1914, Manchester, United Kingdom + 13 November 1990, Eastbourne, United Kingdom;


Richard Lewis (10 May 1914, Manchester, England – 13 November 1990, Eastbourne, England) was an English tenor

Born in Manchester, he first studied with TW Evans at the Royal Conservatory of Manchester, and then with Norman Allin at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He made his debut in 1939 with the Carl Rosa Opera Company as Rossini’s Count Almaviva. Like so many, his career was interrupted by WWII. It was not until 1945 that he was able to continue his career by undertaking a concert tour of Belgium (still as a soldier), performing the solos in Bach’s “Magnificat” and Händel’s “Messiah” in Brussels, as well as concerts in Antwerp and Liège. The Male Chorus in “The Rape of Lucretia ” at Glyndebourne, and Peter Grimes at Covent Garden in 1947. Several world premieres, Gwen in Arwell Hughe’s “Menna” in 1953, Troillus in Walton’s “Troillus and Cressida” in 1954 , Mark in “The Midsummer Marriage “in 1955 and Achilles in his “King Priam” in 1962. His roles included Monteverdi’s Nero, Tamino, Don Ottavio, Idomeneo, Admète in “Alceste” Jason in Cherubini’s “Medea”, Florestan, Massenet’s Des Grieux, Don Jose, Hoffmann, Pinkerton, Bacchus, Herod, Jenik, Grigory, Tom Rakewell, Schoenberg’s Aron and Captain Vere. A leading exponent of oratorios, most particularly Gerontius. A most elegant singer.

Biography by Charles Rhodes

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Posted by on May 19, 2018 in Tenors

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