Top 10 Best Male Tenors of All Time

Do you get goosebumps when you hear a perfectly-executed high note? If so, you're not alone. The human voice is a powerful instrument, and the tenor voice in particular has an unmatched ability to stir the soul.

Tenors possess a unique vocal range that gives them the power to cut through an orchestra and send melodies soaring. Throughout history, some of the greatest tenors have left a lasting legacy on the world of music. They've made us laugh, they've made us cry, and their voices have become part of the soundtrack of our lives.

But who are the absolute best male tenors to ever grace the stage? That's where you come in. We want to know YOUR favorites. Think carefully about the singers whose voices send shivers down your spine - the tenors with the power, the control, and the charisma to capture your imagination. Then, cast your vote and help determine the all-time greatest.
The Top Ten
1 David Phelps David Norris Phelps is an American Christian music vocalist, songwriter and vocal arranger, who is best known for singing tenor in the Gaither Vocal Band.

I never leave a Phelps concert without having received a blessing. His gift of voice is so wonderful and pure. As he lifts his voice toward heaven, what a beautiful and sweet sound. His range is amazing. His ability to reach those high notes and hold them is phenomenal.

But more than anything, I appreciate the fact that he uses his gift to reach people all over the world for Christ. He knows from where his gift comes and acknowledges that. He is a wonderful guy, whose presence is just a joy. He is who he says he is and wonderful to see and be around. I wouldn't miss a concert at all if I could get there. He is great, no matter what, but even better when you see him perform live. A very gifted man, I never tire of hearing that beautiful voice.

2 Jonathan Antoine Jonathan Antoine is a classically trained English tenor. He rose to fame after appearing on the sixth series of Britain's Got Talent in 2012 as one half of the classical duo Jonathan and Charlotte.

Jonathan Antoine will go down in history, no doubt. His ability to touch people's souls at such a young age is incredible. Jonathan sings and becomes the music. He is unaware of many of his reactions while singing because he goes to a different place. He is not singing for fame, money, or any other ego-boosting reasons. He loves to sing, period. Who better to sing the best music ever written? I don't think there are words to describe how magnificent he will be in a few more years as he matures and trains more.

3 Luciano Pavarotti Luciano Pavarotti, Cavaliere di Gran Croce was an Italian operatic tenor who also crossed over into popular music, eventually becoming one of the most commercially successful tenors of all time.

I was brought up listening to different tenors. My father, a working-class man, was a great fan. He once came home with a record by a little-known tenor, Fritz Wunderlich, who was amazing but sadly died at age 33. Then my dad introduced me to the greatest tenor of all time, Pavarotti. His range and phrasing all appeared effortless. I don't care that he couldn't act or do opera. He sang from his heart. He was the maestro. He knocked the socks off any other tenor, past or present. We were truly blessed to have the great Luciano. There has and never will be another tenor like him.

4 Placido Domingo José Plácido Domingo Embil, known as Plácido Domingo, is a Spanish tenor, conductor and arts administrator.

Several years ago, I received tickets to the Met to hear Tosca, not realizing that Domingo was the featured tenor. I sat there, totally mesmerized by the combination of his velvet (no other word will suffice) sound, amazing dramatic presence, and striking good looks. In my book, he's got it all!

I've only had the opportunity to hear him on television and in recordings since, but I consider him the best tenor ever because he combines all elements of opera so successfully and beautifully.

Placido far surpasses everyone with his versatility, fabulous voice, and emotion when he sings. He doesn't just sing a song or an aria. He feels it from deep down in his heart and soul. And this is the real Placido!

He is intelligent, and according to everyone who works or has worked with him, he is easy to work with. You will never find a greater tenor or human being. He should be number one! When he sings, he touches one's heart and soul.

5 Enrico Caruso Enrico Caruso was an Italian operatic tenor. He sang to great acclaim at the major opera houses of Europe and the Americas, appearing in a wide variety of roles from the Italian and French repertoires that ranged from the lyric to the dramatic.

As Domingo said when he was voted #1 tenor of the 20th century: "No, Caruso was the greatest." He couldn't have been more right! No one sang with the same empathy as the Great Caruso.

That's obvious, even with the primitive recordings we have of his magnificent voice.

I never heard tell of the guy sitting in first place. Like, what, REALLY? I grew up listening to the great tenors - Caruso, Lanza, Pavarotti, then Domingo, more Pavarotti, Carreras - because my dad would sometimes hog the old floor model record player.

But Pavarotti IS #1, Caruso #2. He must be rolling over in his grave, sitting in the 4th spot under who? It's clear that a lot of people are watching too many TV talent contests where the TRULY GREATS elude them. Pity!

6 Mario Lanza Mario Lanza was an American tenor of Italian ancestry, and an actor and Hollywood film star of the late 1940s and the 1950s. Lanza began studying to be a professional singer at the age of 16.

If you're judging only on freedom from technical errors, the magical Mario doesn't rank near the top. But if you're judging by rich, highly versatile vocal tonality, especially in the mid-tenor range where most tenor singing occurs, Mario's voice is, among those we have well-recorded (which doesn't include Caruso), the standard by which all others must be judged.

For instance, Pavarotti's highs were wonderful, but his mid-range was unexceptional, not particularly resonant, and weak in harmonics. Lanza's mid-range was incredibly great, yet his highs sounded clear while retaining nicely balanced harmonics, where most tenors lose them and sound strident by comparison. On balance, if judging by VOICE alone, Mario Lanza is still the best I've ever heard during the last 50 years of being a tenor.

7 José Carreras

Slim and very good-looking, which was highly unusual for tenors in his era, Jose Carreras epitomized the romantic hero. His deeply moving, sincere singing always touches you. Once, someone described him as having a voice of extraordinary beauty. I could not agree more with this. What he has sung from his soul remains at an unreachable level of appeal to opera lovers.

Most of Carreras's opera performances set a standard of pure perfection, with his expressive phrasing, laser-precise timing, and appealing voice. And you cannot help but compare every other performance you come across to his. You measure all the rest by how close they come to his interpretation of ultimate beauty.

8 Andrea Bocelli Andrea Bocelli is an Italian classical crossover tenor, recording artist, and singer-songwriter. Born with poor eyesight, he became permanently blind at the age of 12 following a football accident.

I love listening to him sing everything from arias to contemporary music. I don't understand why some call him a lounge singer, perhaps out of jealousy because of the millions of records Andrea has sold and continues to sell. He is an opera singer and he doesn't use a microphone when singing opera, yet he is well heard in the back. He controls his voice for the application of the music he sings. When using a microphone, he sings as if he is whispering a lullaby in the ear of a child. He sings differently when performing opera. Extremely intelligent and kind, he should be in the top 3.

9 Jussi Björling

Carreras called Jussi "Il Tenore Perfetto." Pavarotti, when asked to compare his Manrico to Jussi's, said, "I'm only human. I try to sing like him. I would like people to compare me with him." Caruso's widow said that only Jussi was worthy to wear Rico's crown.

I rest my case by suggesting that you find Jussi's live performance from the Met, "Romeo," called by Conrad Osborne one of the most perfect live performances by a lyric tenor (along with Jussi's Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut). And finally, wait until Christmas Eve and find "O Helga Natt, O Holy Night" in Swedish, and you will not want to hear another version. Now, I really do rest my case.


10 Alfie Boe

The clarity of Boe's voice, whether in a higher or lower register, is outstanding. His voice has also developed a richness and warmth, which have invested his fine lyric tenor with even more intensity - so important when singing classical music or indeed any other style.

His lead performances in La Bohème, The Pearl Fishers, and other operatic roles have won him plaudits, although it is probably his performance in that most operatic of musical theatre pieces, Les Mis, for which he is best known. He received a four-minute standing ovation when he first performed in it.

The Contenders
11 Fritz Wunderlich

Regarding lyric tenors, one cannot but admire Wunderlich's artistry, his expression, and also technical excellence. To make a list of the "best tenors" is quite ambivalent, as there are different "prerequisites" for different composers. Wunderlich and Mozart fit perfectly. Whether Wunderlich and Wagner would have matched, no one can say.

Definitely the best tenor on the list! His beautiful recordings of the Mozartian tenor arias have no equal. And, unlike the Italians, he manages to go high without sounding like his balls were cut off. A true male voice.

Another tenor not mentioned, and worth mentioning, is Frank Kelley - superb with both Bach and Mozart!

12 Rolando Villazon

Tenors are often seen as the ninnies of the opera: not too intelligent and very vain. The famous conductor Arturo Toscanini even maintained that being an idiot would be the privilege of the tenors. Well, Rolando Villazon certainly demands this privilege. He not only has a wonderful, warm, and full tenor voice in the bel canto tradition of the great tenors but also a lot of brains.

He proves it as an actor and director on the opera stage, as a singer in concert, and as the author of a really interesting and exciting novel, which has managed to convince even literature critics. Villazon is one of the most interesting figures in the opera scene today, and besides, he's a wonderful, warm-hearted, generous, and witty human being.

13 Franco Corelli

The greatest tenor ever... many imitate him. Villazon is a case in point, and others have learned from him how to sing properly. Corelli has no rivals. One can understand this by listening to one live recording, a Tosca from Bergamo, and then listening to all of the rest.

(Parenthetically, I heard him live at the Met many times. He had the audiences enthralled all the way through his turbulent career. Callas named him as her best partner in the many operas he sang with her.)

I like many of the choices here, but Corelli is number one.

14 Piero Barone

His singing is effortless! His natural talent makes him the greatest. He's so young and sings with the mature, professional, and experienced voice of a 50-year-old professional tenor, yet his age isn't even half that. And he still has more experience to gain.

His singing is effortless! He can reach high notes without any trouble. Aside from his high notes, his low singing, when he sings pop, is just the most gorgeous sound in the world. Even when singing that style of music (pop), he does it beautifully and professionally.

Piero is the full package: young, good-looking, amazing tenor voice, amazing pop singing, charisma, etc. One of the most lovely things about him is his young age. When he works, he is serious. But aside from his work, he is a lovely, crazy teenager. I know he is twenty, but for me, he will always be a teenager, a gifted young singer with an amazing voice and a teen with a good-looking, happy life and amazing personality.

Piero Barone Ognibene is the most amazing singer in the world. He, with his amazing gift, has improved a lot, like experienced tenors in their 40s and 50s, and he will have many more years to improve and leave his mark on history.

15 Wes Hampton

Wes is a wonderful singer. I love to hear him.

16 Jonas Kaufmann

This guy is the best in the world today. Besides having a great voice, he has a matching personality. I can only explain his position at number 26 as a result of him not being heard as frequently as some of the so-called popular tenors.

He does not sing you a song. He does not tell you a story. He pulls you in, pulls you under, and when he finally lets you go, you find yourself dripping with emotions you might otherwise never have felt.

The easy, natural style, the superb quality of his tone, his remarkable versatility, and emotional range make him, for me, the best tenor in the world. I could listen to him all day.

17 Lauritz Melchior

The absolute finest Heldentenor of all time. No one could hold a candle to him.

18 Beniamino Gigli

Not many have heard this beautiful tenor. There are not many recordings for young people to listen to, but in serious rankings, he is listed as #2 of all time. Only Caruso (most have never even heard of him because he was living and performing more than 100 years ago) was ranked better. Björling has been ranked as #3.

The voice of an angel! For me personally, this tenor is way out in front. Breath control, diction, interpretation - all amazing - and that velvet, caressing sound is unequaled.

I am 80 years of age, and when I first heard Beniamino Gigli sing La Donna è Mobile, he was truly unbelievable. Even today, I still maintain he was the best tenor at that time. Mario was good, as were the others: Pavarotti, Lucia, Caruso, and so the list goes on. Anyone reading this will know them all.

19 Nicolai Gedda

For me, he is the best tenor and has the most beautiful voice. Of course, he didn't die at 35, falling down the stairs, as one of the comments said. He is still alive today.

He unfortunately died at 35 years of age, falling down stairs.

Gedda is still alive, born July 11, 1925. And he was marvelous!

20 Elvis Presley Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977) was an American singer and actor. Dubbed the "King of Rock and Roll", he is regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century. His energized interpretations of songs and sexually provocative performance style, combined... read more

While Elvis was primarily perceived as a baritone and most of the tessitura of his songs was on the staff, he was, in my opinion, a tenor. Technically, he never properly worked to smooth his passaggio and bring more weight up to the top of his voice.

However, one has only to look and listen to much of what Elvis sang and recorded - especially from about 1974 onward - to realize that, had he gone in an entirely different direction musically, he could very well have sung opera. Although in bad physical shape toward the end of his life, the in-concert recordings from his last tour reveal, rather hauntingly, what might have been. Listen especially to the way he sang the Timi Yuro classic "Hurt." Vocally, he was incredibly exciting.

21 Adam Lambert Adam Mitchel Lambert is an American singer, songwriter and stage actor. Since 2009, he has sold over 2.5 million albums and 5 million singles worldwide.

The finest male vocalist of this generation. Adam can sing any genre, and only improves on any song he covers. He has an enormous range and is probably the most technically beautifully controlled voice in the industry. Add to that his flamboyant and thrilling performance style, and his personal attractiveness, and you have all the makings of an ICON. The cherry on top of all that is...he's a very charming and loveable person!

A phenomenal artist on every level! No one like him at all! He is deserving of all the success for he is a hard worker and never disappoints! Every age group are fans of his not only "the grannies "!

One of the greatest performers of our generation with a powerful voice to match!

22 Jon Vickers

Perhaps the greatest singing-actor ever to grace the opera stage. His voice was not beautiful - at least not by conventional standards - but my God, the man was riveting to watch and listen to.

I first saw him at the Met in 1978 in Otello. His smoldering intensity and total immersion into the role were electrifying and, at times, even frightening. An iconic tenor, to be sure.

His vocal technique and his total connection to the characters he played made him one of the best opera singers of all time.

One of the greatest dramatic tenors. Great Siegmund and Othello.

23 Juan Diego Flórez

Juan Diego Florez, to me, simply the best tenor around at present! The clarity of his voice, internation, etc. Etc. Are just perfect in my opinion, and those high C's are incredible! Brought LaScala to it's feet for something like 8 standing ovatiobe when he performed in La Fille du Regiment, and that had not happened for over 60 years! Incredible voice!

He puts everyone else to shame. No one can sing Rossini like Juan Diego Florez. You couldn't get his first name right? Doesn't say much for you!

Simple the best as stated by Pavarotti. Please get his name correct "Juan".

24 Freddie Mercury Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara, 5th September 1946 - 24th November 1991) was a Zanzibari-born British singer of Indian descent, songwriter and record producer, known as the lead vocalist and songwriter of the British rock band Queen. He also became known for his flamboyant stage persona and four-octave... read more

His is a tenor voice, and if you don't believe it, watch the video of the professional singing teacher. His name is Phil Moufarrege. He will tell you the absolute real truth about Freddie Mercury's voice.

Not everything the scientists said is true because they don't understand the singing qualities of someone's voice, and their statements are sometimes useless.

He has to be at the top. He is the best singer of all time, and he always used his tenor voice, which wasn't his natural voice. He was a baritone! Only a genius can do this!

25 Joseph Calleja

This man has the most beautiful tenor voice I have ever heard, there is a magical quality to his voice that to my ears beats the best, past and present. I can't stop listening to his fantastic CD's he is able to control his voice in either upper or lower register to absolute perfection. Just wonderful.

Sure Joseph Calleja has a great future with such a talent. Although coming from the small island of Malta, he already can be considered among the greatest of all times.

Joseph is a great tenor. He's holding a rank as the great 3. With his way to articulate all the words, its way better than most operatenors active to day. And his soft and distinct vibrato make his voice more than great.

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