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Article

Mikaela Minga

[Antoniu, Christache]

(b Bucharest, Romania, Dec 25, 1907; d Tirana, Albania, March 17, 1979). Tenor, actor, and stage director. He studied at the Mimodramatic High School of Bucharest and then in Rome, with M. Polverosi. In Romania, he had a successful career as an actor and singer. He was in the movie industry in the 1920s and early 30s, playing in more than 15 films, including Ciocoii (1931), Iancu Jianu, (1928), and Maiorul Mura (1927). In the meantime, he worked in the Alhambra theater as a singer and stage director of operettas. In the mid 1930s, Antoniu moved to Albania and pursued a singing career. He made only one cinematic appearance in 1943, for the short film documentary Takimi në liqen (‘Meeting at the Lake’). He was a dramatic tenor, with a baritone quality in his voice. This led him to explore a large range of operatic characters from both the Western opera repertory and the Albanian one. He performed and recorded Albanian traditional or folk songs, handled with an operatic vocal posture and arranged with western harmonies. His son, Gjergj Antoniu was a prominent Albanian cellist....

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Nicholas Tochka

(b Brockton, MA, USA, Nov 4, 1925). Albanian tenor and pedagogue. Born in the large Albanian immigrant colony in New England (USA), Athanasi returned as a child to his parents’ hometown of Korça, where he participated in its vibrant prewar choral, theatre, and sports scenes. During World War II, he performed with resistance groups singing patriotic and partisan songs and, in 1948, he was selected as a soloist in the newly formed National Army Ensemble by director Gaqo Avrazi. Athanasi was among a handful of young men in this ensemble to receive a scholarship to study in the Soviet Union, and following the completion of his degree in vocal performance at the Moscow State Conservatory in 1958, he was appointed soloist at Tirana’s Theatre of Opera and Ballet. He performed leading roles in premières of Albanian operas, and was active as a recitalist, performing a broad range of art music works from the Western European and Albanian repertories as well as arranged folk songs into the 1980s. In ...

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Trena Jordanoska and Dimitrije Bužarovski

(b Glišikj, Kavadarci, Republic of Macedonia, 1918; d Skopje Sept 25, 1976). Macedonian folk singer. His lyric tenor voice, with its distinctive timbre (simultaneously light and warm), was recognized soon after his first performance in Radio Skopje in 1948, and it was established as a model for the male vocal repertory of traditional Macedonian music. He sang softly, with richness, in a narrow piano dynamic spectrum, and with delicate use of vibrato and ornaments. He became an idol among Macedonian audiences worldwide and has been adored by Balkan audiences as well, taking tours in Europe, Canada, USA, and Australia.

His recorded repertory of over 230 songs (without variants) is published on dozens of LPs and cassettes. 359 recorded songs have been digitized and stored in the Buzarovski Archive (BuzAr) in 2005. His diverse repertory was carefully selected with a refined musical taste, mainly from urban traditional songs of all genres—love, elegiac, patriotic, and humorous songs. His voice was well suited to ensemble performance, resulting in duets with V. Ilieva, A. Sarievski, Mirvet Belovska, Dragica Nikolova, Blagoj Petrov Karagjule, Violeta Tomovska, E. Redžepova, Anka Gieva, and Atina Apostolova....

Article

Charles Hamm

revised by Kimberly Greene

(b London, England, March 20, 1774; d London, England, Feb 17, 1856). English tenor and composer. He made his debut as a boy soprano at Covent Garden in 1787. He sang in Europe after his voice broke, returning to England at the turn of the century, where he established a reputation as one of the country’s leading tenors. He traveled to the United States in the autumn of 1840 and, at the age of 68, “surpassed all expectations” with the “pathos, sublimity, power, and wonderful execution” of his voice. He appeared first in concert, with a selection of tenor and baritone airs from opera and oratorio mixed with popular ballads. His American operatic debut, at the Park Theatre in New York, was in Stephen Storace’s The Siege of Belgrade, and he went on to re-create many of his famous roles, in Charles Horn’s The Devil’s Bridge, Thomas Dibdin’s The Cabinet, and Weber’s Der Freischütz. At one point he astonished audiences and critics by appearing in seven demanding roles in less than two weeks....

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Nicholas Tochka

(b Korça, Albania, Jan 24, 1935). Albanian tenor and pedagogue. Identified early as a talented singer in his hometown of Korça, he attended the Arts Lyceum ‘Jordan Misja’ in Tirana where he received his first formal training, with the pedagogue Mihal Ciko. In 1957 he received a scholarship to study at the Moscow State Conservatory, where he remained until 1961. On his return to Tirana, Çako was named soloist to the Theater of Opera and Ballet, where he performed a number of leading roles in foreign and Albanian operas during the 1960s and 1970s. Chief among his roles in Albanian operatic works were Dhimitër in Lulja e Kujtimit (by P. Jakova, 1961), Doda in Mrika (by P. Jakova, 1966), and Muji in Vjosa (by T. Daija, 1980). In addition to art music, he interpreted light popular songs and arrangements of folk songs throughout his career. Named as a pedagogue to Tirana’s State Conservatory in ...

Article

John Koegel

[Francisco Rafael ]

(b San Antonio, TX, May 16, 1883; d New York, NY, Dec 12, 1943). American operatic tenor and recitalist of Mexican and German heritage. He was the most prominent Mexican American opera singer of his day, although perhaps to advance his career he used the Italian-sounding first name “Rafaelo,” and press reports sometimes identified him as Spanish instead of Mexican American or Mexican. Díaz attended the German-English School and the West Texas Military Academy (now Texas Military Institute) in San Antonio. He studied piano with Amalia Hander, a local music teacher, and at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin. After vocal studies with Vincenzo Sabatini in Milan, he returned to the United States and in 1911 began appearing in small roles with the Boston Grand Opera Company, quickly moving up to more prominent assignments. He accompanied the soprano Luisa Tetrazzini on a tour in 1913 and made his Metropolitan Opera debut in Massenet’s ...

Article

Thor Eckert Jr.

revised by Beth McGinnis

(b Ojai, CA, Dec 27, 1939). American tenor. He studied at the Music Academy of the West, UCLA with martial Singher and from 1963 to 1972 at the Juilliard School with Jennie Tourel. He began his professional career as Francesco Cavalli’s Ormindo with the Opera Society of Washington (1969) and as Tonio in a concert performance of Gaetano Donizetti’s La fille du régiment with Beverly Sills at Carnegie Hall (1970, recorded on the Adagio Classics label). Shortly thereafter he made his New York City Opera debut in Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw and went on to sing with opera companies in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, France, Switzerland, and England. His repertoire of more than seventy roles includes Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Ferrando, Belmonte, and Tamino, Charles Gounod’s Faust and Roméo, Georges Bizet’s Don José, and Claude Debussy’s Pelléas. He has appeared regularly with major American orchestras, choral societies, and music festivals and has performed Franz Schubert’s song cycles with fortepiano. Known for his versatility and acute attention to style, he has sung in the premieres of works by Leonard Bernstein, Jack Beeson, Thomas Pasatieri, Alberto Ginastera (...

Article

Charles Jahant

revised by Jonas Westover

(b Norfolk, VA, Dec 27, 1909; d Amsterdam, Holland, Nov 7, 1987). American tenor. He began singing at the age of 14, studied with May Hamaker Henley, and in the 1930s sang with Benny Carter and Fletcher Henderson’s jazz bands. He appeared in Marc Connelly’s drama Green Pastures and the film Hullabaloo (1941), and had a 13-week concert program on NBC radio. He then became a pupil of Georges Le Pyre, an assistant to Bruno Walter, in Hollywood, California. He moved to New York, where he studied with Clyde Burrows and performed in Jeb (1948), Hall Johnson’s Run Little Chillun’, Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts, and the premiere of Blitzstein’s The Airborne. Holland felt that he was unable to make a life for himself as a respected singer in the United States due to racial prejudice, and thereafter decided to make his home in Europe. After settling in France in ...

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William Brooks

(b Dublin, Ireland, Jan 19, 1846; d Rochester, NY, March 19, 1916). Tenor of Irish birth. After studying with Henry Phillips in England he moved to Italy. He made his New York debut in 1871 with the Parepa-Rosa English Opera Company, and in the mid-1870s moved permanently to the United States as a singer of opera, light opera, and oratorio. He was a founding member of the Boston Ideal Opera Company (1887). During the next ten years he became one of the most popular tenors in the country, celebrated for a number of Gilbert and Sullivan roles and for the title role in De Koven’s Robin Hood. He retired in 1896 and taught in New York, then lived briefly in California before settling in Rochester about 1912. Karl possessed a light, lyric voice and considerable personal charm; his integrity and prestige contributed significantly to the popularization of light opera in the United States....

Article

J.B. Steane

(Fr.)

Term for an old man’s role sung by a high tenor. In the later part of his career as an haute-contre, Jean-Louis Laruette of the Opéra-Comique specialized in comic roles for elderly gentlemen, which came to be known as ‘laruettes’. As early as Mozart and Rossini old men’s roles were generally for a bass rather than a high tenor, but the tradition survived in ...

Article

Claire Levy

(b Haskovo, 29 June 1896; d Sofia, 31 July 1978). Bulgarian singer, internationally famous as a schlager performer, nicknamed the ‘Knight of the Upper F’. As a child he was a solo singer in the church choir in the town of Stara Zagora. Later on he went to the military school in Sofia and in 1920 took professional vocal lessons. In 1923 Leshnikoff went to Berlin, where he received a scholarship at the Sternischen Konservatorium. In 1927 he was appointed at the Grosses Schauspielhaus – a review theatre – and in 1928 joined Comedian Harmonists, a newly formed male vocal sextet, to perform the first tenor part. Becoming one of the most popular groups in Europe before World War II, Comedian Harmonists developed a style, based on aspects of German schlager, bel canto opera singing, pleasing tunes influenced by traditional lyrical songs, and Afro-American-derived patterns associated with the blues, gospel, and close harmony vocal techniques. Their records were released by labels including Odeon, Electrola, Columbia, and His Master’s Voice. In ...

Article

J.B. Steane

(Fr. ténor lyrique; Ger. lirischer Tenor; It. tenore lirico)

Tenors of the lighter sort will not be required to contend with heavy orchestration or to raise their voices in strenuous declamation, and therefore (the theory goes) can concentrate on the production of beautiful tone and evenness of line. In this way they will bring grace to the composer’s melodies: hence ‘lyric’. (The lighter kind of lyric tenor is also known as Tenore di grazia (opera) .) As the tenor became increasingly important in opera during the latter half of the 18th century, he found himself having two main dramatic functions to fulfil, those of hero and lover. Where the role was largely confined to the part of lover it fell essentially to the lyric tenor; so Ferrando and Don Ottavio (but not Idomeneus) in Mozart are taken by the lyric tenor, as also Almaviva, Lindoro and Don Ramiro (but not Arnold or Otello) in Rossini. Tenors who specialize in operas of this period and who include in their repertory parts such as Arturo in ...

Article

Justin Vickers

(b Aberdeen, Scotland, Dec 11, 1946). Scottish tenor and pedagogue. Graduating in 1969 he studied the piano and the clarinet at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama; he won a scholarship to the RCM in voice, graduating Associate of the Royal College of Music (Hons) and a Postgraduate Diploma in 1972 and 1973, respectively. In 1973 a Gulbenkian Fellowship supported vocal study with Ernst Haeflinger in Munich, followed by vocal studies with renowned English tenor Sir Peter Pears from 1973 to 1986. He has enjoyed a longtime collaboration with Peter Maxwell Davies, creating roles in The Martyrdom of St Magnus (the title role, 1977), Solstice of Light (1979), The Lighthouse (1980), Into the Labyrinth (1983), Jacobite Rising (1997), and Sea Elegy (1998). He sang and recorded first performances from Benjamin Britten’s song canon (after Britten’s death), notably including the première performance of ‘Now sleeps the crimson petal’, which was excised from ...

Article

Irina Boga

(b Constanța, Romania, Oct 6, 1935). Romanian tenor . He began his studies at the Bucharest Conservatory with the renowned lyrical artist Constantin (Dinu) Bădescu, whose disciple he remained throughout his career. He made his début at the Romanian Opera as Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi (1966) and in a short time became renowned for his Italian and Mozartian repertory. He left Romania in 1972 due to conflicts with the communist government in Romania. His first European contract came that same year with the Regensburg Opera in Germany, for the role of Manrico, a success that led to an international career. He performed, between 1972 and 1989, on the major stages in Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, England, and Portugal. He also performed in cities in North America, including Fort Worth, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Pretoria, Pittsburgh, Denver, and Baltimore. He sang lead tenor roles in Il tabaro, Don Carlo, Rigoletto, Manon Lescaut, La traviata, Cavalleria rusticana, La bohème, Faust, Turandot...

Article

Zana Shuteriqi Prela

(b Elbasan, Albania, Sept 23, 1981). Albanian tenor . After earning the diploma in violin at 16 in Elbasan, he graduated in 2002 in singing from the Conservatory Claudio Monteverdi in Bolzano (Italy), where he studied with Vito Maria Brunetti. During his studies he met tenor Luciano Pavarotti, who helped him to perfect a number of roles in his repertory. He has been awarded a series of first prizes in lyric festivals, including the Caruso and Tito Schipa, both in 2002, which became determinant factors in the rise of his singing career. That same year he was invited by Claudio Abbado to sing the role of Ferrando in Così fan tutte in Ferrara, which he interpreted again two years later at the Salzburg Festival with Philippe Jordan conducting. In 2008 he was chosen by Woody Allen to sing in Los Angeles the role of Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi. He has performed at a number of notable opera houses, including the Vienna State Opera (...

Article

Michael Meckna

(b Albion, NY, Oct 23, 1928; d Ashland, OR, Aug 12, 2000). American composer and tenor. Born into a musical family, he toured as a youth, appearing both as a pianist and a boy soprano. After attending the Eastman Preparatory School (1941–4), he was a pupil of Vivian Major and William Willett at SUNY, Fredonia (BM 1950), then of Wolfgang Niederste-Schee while on a tour of military duty in Frankfurt (1950–2). During this period he gave organ and piano recitals, and was a clarinetist in the 4th Division Infantry Band. At the Eastman School (MM 1954, DMus 1958) he studied with wayne Barlow , bernard Rogers , and howard Hanson . After holding several teaching positions he was a member of the music faculty of San Francisco State University (1959–80) and a visiting professor at the University of Hawaii (1970–1). He was active for many years as a concert tenor....

Article

Eva Badura-Skoda and Roberto Pagano

Member of Scarlatti family

(b ?Palermo, 1669–72; d Naples, Aug 1, 1760). Tenor, brother of (1) Alessandro Scarlatti. He went to Naples at such an early age that he later knew nothing of his infancy in Sicily. He was apparently trained at the Conservatorio S Onofrio. On his marriage certificate (30 May 1701) he declared that he had never left Naples, but this detail conflicts with his presence in Crema at the beginning of the same year, when he was described as ‘virtuoso del duca di S Pietro’ and sang the principal role in Il Furio Camillo (the dedication on the libretto is dated 22 January 1701) and in L’innocenza giustificata. In 1703 he sang in his nephew Domenico’s Giustino in Naples. At the beginning of his career he played serious roles, but later specialized as a buffo tenor, contributing to the establishment of a Neapolitan version of an old ingredient of Venetian opera. Sartori (...

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Mikaela Minga

(b Shkodra, April 4, 1926; d Tirana, May 24, 2004). Albanian tenor . He started singing at an early age. In the year 1945 he entered the Ansambli i Ushtrisë (‘Army Ensemble’) as a soloist. From 1952 to 1957 he was in Moscow to study singing at the P.I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory. Once back, he started work as a soloist at the National Opera Theater and at the Ansambli Shtetëror i Këngëve dhe Valleve Popullore (‘State Ensemble of Folk Songs and Dances’). He interpreted several main roles in the operas Cavalleria Rusticana, Madame Butterfly, and Rigoletto, and also in the Albanian operas Lulja e kujtimit (‘The Flower of Memory’) by Kristo Kono, Mrika by Prenk Jakova, Zgjimi (‘The Awakening’) by Tonin Harapi, and Borana, by Avni Mula. Tukiçi was renowned also for his performances of Albanian songs (këngë popullore), sung in a characteristic leggero tenor style. These pieces became very popular among Albanian audiences. He toured with the State Ensemble of Folk Songs and Dances and achieved several different state prizes during his career....