Stephen Pettitt

Heroes of the concert hall

What makes a great tenor?

Before getting down to some hard iconoclasm, let me first declare that to me all tenors, no matter what music they sing, nor even how well or badly they sing it, are heroes. Not because they tend to get heroes’ parts, but simply because of what they do, physically. Never blessed with much of a singing voice myself — even my speaking tone is rather rasping, which may or may not explain why Radio Three hasn’t been in touch lately — I view tenors with a mix of deep envy and utter amazement.

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