If you’re new to the world of opera, and you’re seeking knowledge of the best male opera singers, look no further. In this article, we’ll pay respect to some of the best men to ever hit the opera stage. So without further, let’s get right to it.
Best Male Opera Singers You Will Love
Let’s begin with a man that’s headlining most people’s list of the top male opera singers of all time: Luciano Pavarotti.
Luciano Pavarotti is one of the most famous tenors of all-time, and he certainly earned that reputation. Pavarotti had a distinctive voice that is easy to identify. He had a larger-than-life stage presence that sucked people in to his performances. The voice was full of ring, passion, and focus in every note.
Pavarotti sang some of the most well-known and well-beloved characters in opera. He regularly performed the roles of Cavaradossi in Tosca, Rodolfo in La Bohème, and The Duke in Rigoletto. In fact, his rendition of “La Donna è mobile” is one of his most popular recordings, and even people who do not listen to opera have probably heard it.
Pavarotti poured his soul into every performance he gave. He also branched out into popular music and collaborations with other artists, which helped bring opera to a new generation. Pavarotti famously befriended Bono from the band U2, and the two to help raise money for charity during the Bosnian conflict.
Pavarotti is also famous for his participation as one of the “Three Tenors.” The other two members were Plácido Domingo and José Carreras. The trio performed around the world and have many beloved albums of opera hits.
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Matthew Polenzani is making waves in the opera world right now with his bel canto approach and velvet-smooth voice. As he approaches soaring high notes, his entire voice stays open and easeful. He sings difficult phrases without breaking a sweat, which lets the audience sit back and enjoy the show.
Polenzani’s signature roles include Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, and the Mozart tenor heroes of Don Giovanni, Idomeneo, and La Clemenza di Tito. Notably, Polenzani has also recently performed in 2 of the 3 Donizetti “tudor queen operas,” Maria Stuarda and Roberto Devereux.
Philippe Jaroussky possesses one of the rarest voices in the world. Jaroussky is a world-class countertenor, so he sings in the same range as many professional sopranos and mezzo-sopranos. His voice is angelic and pure, and he sings repertoire that matches it.
As a countertenor, Jaroussky specializes primarily in baroque repertoire and early music. Jaroussky is so masterful at this technique that it does transport you back several centuries when you listen to him.
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Thomas Hampson is one of the greatest lyric baritones alive today. He is equally proficient on the operatic stage as well as in art song recitals in concert halls. Hampson’s voice is free and flowing. He does not over-darken any of his notes, as many other baritones are often tempted to do. The result is a pure, honest sound that is consistent throughout his range.
Hampson is famous for over 80 professional roles. He is exceptionally noted for his Germont in La Traviata and the title role in Don Giovanni.
Listen to his “Danse Macabre” by Camille Saint-Saëns for his art song prime. In that recording, he perfectly embodies the different characters of the piece, simultaneously wrapping you in the velvet blanket of his voice and setting you on edge.
Jussi Björling was a phenomenal Swedish tenor. He led much of the 20th Century as the tenor to hear. His voice is pure and rich. There is something innocent and lively about his voice that makes him perfect for the young heroes he often portrayed on stage. His voice had a “joy” that seemed to bubble through everything he sang.
Björling is known for dozens of operatic roles, including Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni and ranging even to Erik in Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer. His rendition of Les Pêcheurs de Perles is especially moving.
Björling also regularly performed and recorded art songs in his native language of Swedish. If you are looking to learn more about Nordic languages and music, his album “En Klassik Julsamling” is the perfect place to start.
Bryn Terfel is a Welsh bass-baritone currently making a great name for himself in the operatic world. Terfel has a dark, deep, mature voice that exudes power and strength. When he masterfully sings softly, it evokes a tenderness that you might not have thought possible with the natural thrust in his voice.
Terfel sings many of the larger bass-baritone characters on the operatic stage. His Holländer in Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer is sensational and noteworthy. He both looks and sings the character with mystery and poise. In fact, Terfel is such a commanding, tall presence with flowing long hair, that he revealed he is often mistaken for the rock star Meatloaf.
Terfel has also branched out of the operatic world through collaboration and recordings. He has performed with Andrea Bocelli and Alfie Boe. His recording of “If I Were a Rich Man” from Fiddler on the Roof is a special treat.
Enrico Caruso is one of the greatest tenors who has ever lived. It is nearly impossible for tenors studying today to avoid listening to Caruso’s recordings, because they are like a textbook for technique on their own. Caruso sang at almost all of the major opera houses in the world, and he made hundreds of recordings to preserve his work.
Caruso sang many major roles, including Don José in Carmen, Dick Johnson in La Fanciulla del West, and Canio in Pagliacci. His recording of “Vesti la giubba” from Pagliacci is unparalleled. You can hear his heart break as he sings of his unfaithful lover.
Lawrence Brownlee is a tenor with a voice in the stars. He sings high Cs as if they are easy, low notes. On top of that, he always looks like he is having a blast while singing them. This gives him a charismatic stage presence and a glimmering voice to match it.
Brownlee is a king of the bel canto repertoire. He is currently singing all of the world at the greatest houses, including but not limited to, the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, and the Royal Opera House. He is an honest, down to earth performer.
Brownlee studied law before deciding to go all-in for music at the urging of some influential teachers, and the opera world is a much better place because of it.
If you want to listen to a fantastic recording, check out Brownlee singing “Pour mon âme” from La Fille du Régiment. Brownlee has made this one of his signature arias, and you can easily tell why when he gracefully pops out the high Cs.
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Samuel Ramey is a legendary bass in the operatic world. He has the technical proficiency to sing Mozart and Handel combined with the vocal prowess to sing larger Verdi and Puccini roles. His powerful voice makes your ribcage rumble while you listen.
Ramey has performed all over the world in a wide range of roles. He sang the title role in Don Giovanni at the Metropolitan Opera in a recorded performance opposite Carol Vaness as Donna Anna and Dawn Upshaw as Zerlina.
No stranger to playing villains, Ramey has released an entire album featuring the best of his “devilish” roles. The album is called “Date With the Devil,” and it features arias from Gounod’s Faust, Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust, Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, and more. It is perfect for Halloween!
Morris Robinson is a young bass who is quickly taking the operatic world by storm. Though he may not yet be a household name, he could very soon earn that title. He has performed numerous times at the Metropolitan Opera in roles like Sarastro in The Magic Flute.
Robinson started his career with a different emphasis. He received multiple scholarships to play American football, and had a great passion and skill for the sport. Robinson credits the discipline and willpower he learned from football as part of his great success.
Robinson’s voice is like a warm bath. He sings notes that are bafflingly low with incredible ease and comfort. He is a joy to listen to.
Opera is a magical art form with the power to transform you to a different century in only a few notes. The leading men of opera are crucial. They play heroes and villains without whom the story may not come to life. These are the best male opera singers, and they absolutely deserve a listen.