Tenore di grazia, Glossary


This post shows the technical term TENORE DI GRAZIA explained in a few sentences with links to practical examples.

Tenore di grazia

(Italian, literally: “tenor of (with) grace”) is an Italian operatic term for a type of tenor that lies between the tenore leggiero (in German: Spieltenor or tenorbuffo) and the heavier tenore lirico (lyric tenor). It is characterized above all by elegant phrasing, agility of voice leading and a mostly warm (“sweet”) or very bright vocal coloration. The genre originated in the great period of the romantic bel canto style between ca. 1810-1850, in which this tenor type was often assigned the roles of youthful lovers or heroes (Source: Wikipedia)




Tito Schipa

Tito Schipa was born in Lecce in 1888. Not much is known about his family, it is said to have been the Bishop of Lecce who discovered him. He made his debut in 1910 with La traviata and his first appearance at La Scala was in 1915. In 1917 he sang in the premiere of “La rondine” by Giacomo Puccini.
His voice was not the radiant one of a Caruso, but it was rather small and cloudy and can be described more with the word sadness. He belonged to the group of “Tenore di Grazia”, whose technique did not focus on the larynx (maximum volume) but on the breath, thus producing less airflow but more carrying capacity, which in great opera houses like the Teatro in Colon leads to astonishing clarity and presence even in the farthest ranks. With this great technique and an uncanny musicality (for example, he composed an operetta in 1935, which he conducted himself), Schipa was able to convince with a wealth of nuances. Schipa’s voice is especially beautiful in Massenet’s operas (Werther and Manon)
Allor, sta proprio qua?..O natura di grazia piena, (Werther)



Alfredo Kraus

“Il piccol legno” is a fisherman’s song from Rossini’s “Guillaume Tell” in the old style, with high difficult passages that take the voice to C once and to B once.
Alfredo Kraus, along with Nicolai Gedda, was the best “tenore di grazia” of the postwar period. Rossini wrote the highly written role of Arnold for this voice type of the “lyric Heldentenor”. Kesting (“the great singers”) speaks highly of Kraus’ “il piccol legno ascendi”: “His voice magically transforms into a silver trumpet, producing top notes for which any other tenor of his saints would light candles.”

Il piccol legno ascendi (Accours dans ma nacelle) Kraus


Peter Lutz, Opera-Inside, the online opera guide.

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