Top 10 Best Male Tenors of All Time

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.

When I found David Phelps, I found my dream artist. His voice goes straight to my heart and soul. Sometimes, I realize I haven't been breathing while listening to his final note. No other voice has that effect on me. He writes beautiful lyrics that capture a wide range of emotions people can relate to. Additionally, he takes time for his fans and genuinely pays attention to what you have to say. He is such a powerful artist, and it is even more incredible that he uses his gift to express his faith and inspire others. There is no chance of losing interest when David opens his mouth to sing. Instead, you will experience the most amazing kind of chills!

2 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.

Pavarotti's incredible silvery top notes, voice, power, and range make him one of the greatest opera singers of the recorded era. His interpretative abilities are immense, bringing life to truly living characters for decades. He was not perfect. Some roles were not suited for his voice, and at times he displayed (especially in later years) not-so-solid technique compared to other tenors. He has become a milestone in the history of music, and there are many other things one could add and say about Big Luciano. I must say it's amazing and quite sad not to see names like Bjorling, Gedda, Vickers, Di Stefano, or Gigli on this list, while seeing Jonathan Antoine in first place. He has a nice voice overall but lacks interpretative abilities, technique, and most of all, history. He is a product of the talent show industry that tries to sell very mediocre singers as stars.

3 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.

Jonathan is unique in every way. His sound is rich, powerful, and full of emotion. People are drawn to him not only because of his amazing voice but also because he is an amazing and courageous person. Although he possesses this phenomenal talent, he is humble, gentle, and compassionate. He brings all of these qualities into his performances, which makes the listener feel connected to him in a way that is deeper and more intimate. Jonathan shares himself in his songs, and that sets him apart from other performers of his time. Even though he is young and just beginning to make an impact, his presence will grow and be felt for years to come.

4 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.

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!

Caruso had an amazing voice. I'm not even a big opera fan, but my parents had his recordings, and I loved listening to him. I think Pavarotti came closest to Caruso of the tenors I've listened to. John McCormack was great but sang a very different kind of music. It's hard to compare him to an operatic tenor. Josh Groban's voice positively makes me melt, but again, it's not an operatic voice.

I resided in Naples, Italy, for a number of years and became quite familiar with opera singers, Mr. Caruso in particular (although he had long passed away). His quality and strength have only been equaled by a few tenor singers of today, Andrea Bocelli being one of them.

Luciano, Andrea, Enrico, and Plácido are what music IS and should not be slaughtered by many of the "styles" of today.

5 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.

6 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.

The reason he isn't No. 1 is that these lists don't mean much.
The reason Jonathan Antoine is No. 1 - and his first CD hasn't even come out yet - is that all these young and older women are in love with him and have no musical objectivity or musical training themselves. What can they possibly know? There are many tenors on this list who should absolutely be in the first 10, and they're not. With that said, I love Andrea Bocelli's voice. It has been tried and proven.

7 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.

Lanza had "the whole package": good looks, a winning personality, and not least, an outstanding tenor voice which had warmth, power, and perfect diction. During his lifetime, some critics (probably mostly out of envy) tried to belittle his abilities and influence, BUT their names are long forgotten, and HIS star will continue to shine for years to come. Lawrence Tibbett once said that it might take fifty years, but that the world would eventually realize what they had. How true. RIP, Mario.

8 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.

Tim

Undoubtedly one of the best lyric tenors of the 20th century. There has been enormous talent in regards to tenor voices, and the lack of trustworthy records of many of them, as well as the different types of voices, makes it very difficult to make comparisons. I would never think about comparing a lyric tenor such as Jussi or Pavarotti with Alfredo Kraus, for example.

That is why when I try to write down my opinion, I am only considering lyric tenors. In spite of all these obstacles to making a fair comparison (which ultimately go against Jussi since his recordings are very old), I believe Björling is one step beyond the rest of the lyric tenors of this century for one reason or another. Arguably, there could be tenors with more power or a broader range of tones, but I cannot find anyone with such a combination of qualities as his. He had amazing power, a very broad range of tones, technique close to perfection, and an extraordinarily well-rounded voice that was always under control. And the list goes on. He was capable of transmitting the deepest emotions even while singing in a language that was not his mother tongue. There is a reason why Maria Callas considered him the greatest male voice with which she had shared the stage.

9 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.

A voice of extraordinary beauty, as one expert said about this tenor. What Jose Carreras has sung well remains a standard of ultimate perfection for opera lovers to this day. His voice is greatly appealing: both tender and masculine, velvety and majestic. You cannot get enough of his singing.

10 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!

His career was cut tragically short at the age of just 35 when he fell down stairs and hit his head. A truly amazing voice, he could also play the French horn, piano, accordion, and trumpet. He was a star in Germany and Austria, and his records were being heard beyond those countries too. He could do it all: superb renditions of Mozart's roles, Puccini, Verdi, and other Italian arias (sometimes sung in German, as was the custom at the time), religious music - be it Bach Cantatas and Passions or Christmas songs or Verdi's Requiem - German lieder by Schubert, Schumann, Strauss, Beethoven, Brahms, etc., popular songs of the time, such as Be My Love, operetta arias by Lehar and others, early pre-Bach music - just about anything, really. Few know about him because he died in 1966, just over a week short of his 36th birthday, leaving behind a wife and three young children. I was astonished when I "discovered" his recordings recently, and there is so much to listen to. From what I have seen online, it looks as if he was a fine actor when performing in operas.

The Contenders
11 Steve Perry Stephen Ray "Steve" Perry is an American singer, songwriter, and record producer. He is known as the lead singer of the rock band Journey during their most commercially successful periods from 1977 to 1987 and again from 1995 to 1998.
12 Alfie Boe

The clarity of Boe's voice, whether in 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.

Alfie has great warm notes in the middle and lower register, with a lyric, flexible upper register. His versatility in singing all genres of music - from opera (in which he trained at the Royal College of Music, National Opera Studio, and the Royal Opera House) to singing Elvis at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee - shows the variety of his repertoire and his belief that there are only two kinds of music: good and bad, and he wants to sing the good stuff. He continues to defy expectations and reach more audiences with his remarkable voice. His superlative starring role as Jean Valjean in the 25th-anniversary concert of Les Miserables helped redefine expectations. This past year, he was invited to sing "Bring Him Home" with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and at the Washington D.C. Memorial Day Concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Finally, listen to his "Alfie Warbles a Bit" YouTube version of "Nessun Dorma," and you will hear a tenor of the highest quality.

13 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 vocal range. Before he became a singer he has been in 3 other bands (Ibex, Sour Milk Sea,... 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!

There can be only ONE! As he is the best singer ever, the question is unnecessary.

14 Michael Jackson Michael Jackson (Michael Joseph Jackson; August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American singer, dancer, and songwriter. He passed away from cardiac arrest caused by a propofol and benzodiazepine overdose on June 25, 2009. He donated (at least) a remarkable 500,000,000 dollars to charity. Michael is also known as The King of Pop (a title given to him by Elizabeth Taylor) or under the initials MJ... read more

When Pavarotti first heard his version of Billy Jean, he burst into tears.

15 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.

Remember the movie "The Killing Fields"? In one segment of the movie, the journalist is in his living room, and "Nessun Dorma" is playing in the background. I swear, I will never forget that voice. After some investigating, I learned that that particular "Nessun Dorma" was sung by Franco Corelli. It was a marvelous rendition of the now-famous aria. I know that Pavarotti has given the same aria his own seal of excellence, but Corelli put as much passion and virtuosity of voice into this aria as Pavarotti.

16 Lauritz Melchior

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

He had a great voice.

17 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 e 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.

18 Luther Vandross Luther Ronzoni Vandross Jr. was an American singer, songwriter and record producer. Throughout his career, Vandross was an in-demand background vocalist for several different artists.
19 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.

Unfortunately for many, the voice of Corelli is unknown. Music is such a subjective choice as to what one likes to hear in a voice. Having listened to opera for nearly 60 years, I can tell you that certain tenors lend themselves best to certain operas. If you truly want to hear the beautiful power of Corelli's voice, then listen to his role in "Andrea Chenier." His mastery of this opera has never been matched!

20 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.

21 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!

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 Wes Hampton

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

Wes has awesome talent!

He is the best.

24 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.

25 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 with a singularly potent mix of influences across color lines during a transformative era in race... 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.

The greatest "non-classically trained" voice of all time.

He was a great Mario Lanza fan since his late teens.

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