Tenor: History of a Voice by John Potter - review by Patrick O’Connor

Patrick O’Connor

High Notes

Tenor: History of a Voice


Yale University Press 320pp £20 order from our bookshop

A few years ago, when I was interviewing the Argentinian tenor José Cura, he groaned at the publicity that was about to surround an exhibition of his photographs in Paris. 'I know it'll all be about the pictures taken by “The Tenor”,’ he told me. ‘Just that word – what does it mean?' It is surprising how the image of the highly-strung tenor opera star has gradually replaced the prima donna in the popular imagination. 

John Potter divides his book into two sections. The first deals with singers about whom almost nothing is known, and others that followed, about whom we can only read and use our imagination. The second deals with singers since the invention of recording, whose voices can still be

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