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Alfredo Kraus Trujillo (Spanish pronunciation: [alˈfɾeðo kɾaus tɾuˈxiʎo] ; 24 November 1927 –10 September 1999) was a distinguished Spanish tenor from the Canary islands (known professionally as Alfredo Kraus), particularly known for the artistry he brought to opera's bel canto roles. He was also considered an outstanding interpreter of the title role in Massenet's opera Werther , and especially of its famous aria, "Pourquoi me réveiller?"
Tenor is a male voice type in classical music whose vocal range lies between the countertenor and baritone. The tenor's vocal range extends up to C5. The low extreme for tenors is roughly A♭2 (two A♭s below middle C). At the highest extreme, some tenors can sing up to the second F above middle C (F5). The tenor voice type is generally divided into the leggero tenor, lyric tenor, spinto tenor, dramatic tenor, heldentenor, and tenor buffo or spieltenor.
Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.
Bel canto —with several similar constructions —is a term with several meanings that relate to Italian singing.
Kraus was born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. His father was Austrian and his mother was Canarian. He began his musical career with piano lessons at the age of four, and he sang in the school choir by age eight. His older brother, Francisco Kraus Trujillo, a baritone, studied music and opera alongside him.
Austrians are a Germanic nation and ethnic group, native to modern Austria and South Tyrol that share a common Austrian culture, Austrian descent and Austrian history. The English term Austrians was applied to the population of Habsburg Austria from the 17th or 18th century. Subsequently, during the 19th century, it referred to the citizens of the Empire of Austria (1804–1867), and from 1867 until 1918 to the citizens of Cisleithania. In the closest sense, the term Austria originally referred to the historical March of Austria, corresponding roughly to the Vienna Basin in what is today Lower Austria.
Canary Islanders, or Canarians, are the inhabitants and/or ethnic group originating in the Canary Islands, an autonomous community of Spain near the coast of northwest Africa. The distinctive variety of the Spanish language spoken in the region is known as habla canaria or the (dialecto) canario. The Canarians, and their descendants, played a major role during the conquest, colonization, and eventual independence movements of various countries in Latin America. Their racial and cultural presence is most palpable in the countries of Uruguay, Venezuela, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and United States territory of Puerto Rico.
Francisco Kraus Trujillo was a Spanish baritone.
After refining his technique singing Spanish zarzuela on stage in Madrid and Barcelona, Kraus made his professional opera debut in Cairo during 1956 as the Duke in Rigoletto , which became one of his signature roles. In 1958, he sang Alfredo at the Teatro Nacional de São Carlos in Lisbon in a production of La traviata with Maria Callas, a live recording of which was later released.
Zarzuela is a Spanish lyric-dramatic genre that alternates between spoken and sung scenes, the latter incorporating operatic and popular songs, as well as dance. The etymology of the name is uncertain, but some propose it may derive from the name of a Royal hunting lodge, the Palacio de la Zarzuela near Madrid, where, allegedly, this type of entertainment was first presented to the court. The palace was named after the place called "La Zarzuela" because of the profusion of brambles (zarzas) that grew there, and so the festivities held within the walls became known as "Zarzuelas".
Madrid is the capital of Spain and the largest municipality in both the Community of Madrid and Spain as a whole. The city has almost 3.3 million inhabitants and a metropolitan area population of approximately 6.5 million. It is the third-largest city in the European Union (EU), smaller than only London and Berlin, and its monocentric metropolitan area is the third-largest in the EU, smaller only than those of London and Paris. The municipality covers 604.3 km2 (233.3 sq mi).
Barcelona is a city in Spain. It is the capital and largest city of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous municipality of Spain. With a population of 1.6 million within city limits, its urban area extends to numerous neighbouring municipalities within the Province of Barcelona and is home to around 4.8 million people, making it the sixth most populous urban area in the European Union after Paris, London, Madrid, the Ruhr area and Milan. It is one of the largest metropolises on the Mediterranean Sea, located on the coast between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs, and bounded to the west by the Serra de Collserola mountain range, the tallest peak of which is 512 metres high.
Kraus made his Covent Garden debut as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor in 1959 and his La Scala debut as Elvino in La sonnambula in 1960. He made his American debut with Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1962, and his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1966 in Rigoletto, the role of his last performance there in 1994.
The Royal Opera House (ROH) is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London. The large building is often referred to as simply "Covent Garden", after a previous use of the site of the opera house's original construction in 1732. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet, and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Originally called the Theatre Royal, it served primarily as a playhouse for the first hundred years of its history. In 1734, the first ballet was presented. A year later, Handel's first season of operas began. Many of his operas and oratorios were specifically written for Covent Garden and had their premieres there.
Lucia di Lammermoor is a dramma tragico in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Salvadore Cammarano wrote the Italian-language libretto loosely based upon Sir Walter Scott's historical novel The Bride of Lammermoor.
La Scala is an opera house in Milan, Italy. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778 and was originally known as the Nuovo Regio Ducale Teatro alla Scala. The premiere performance was Antonio Salieri's Europa riconosciuta.
In subsequent decades, Kraus extended his repertoire to include more Italian operas such as Lucrezia Borgia , La fille du régiment , Linda di Chamounix , Don Pasquale and La favorita by Donizetti; and French operas such as Roméo et Juliette , Les contes d'Hoffmann , Faust and Lakmé , while continuing to sing his hallmark roles of Werther and of Des Grieux in Manon . He also recorded a number of rarely performed French operas including La jolie fille de Perth and Les pêcheurs de perles , both by Georges Bizet, and La muette de Portici by Daniel Auber. He also performed in some very well known works, such as Don Giovanni and Faust.
Lucrezia Borgia is a melodramatic opera in a prologue and two acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Felice Romani wrote the Italian libretto after the play Lucrezia Borgia by Victor Hugo, in its turn after the legend of Lucrezia Borgia. Lucrezia Borgia was first performed on 26 December 1833 at La Scala, Milan.
La fille du régiment is an opéra comique in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti, set to a French libretto by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Jean-François Bayard. It was first performed on 11 February 1840 by the Paris Opéra-Comique at the Salle de la Bourse.
Linda di Chamounix is an operatic melodramma semiserio in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti. The Italian libretto was written by Gaetano Rossi. It premiered in Vienna, at the Kärntnertortheater, on 19 May 1842.
Kraus came to be virtually synonymous with such lyric tenor roles as Werther, Faust, Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), Nemorino, and Arturo. He was also known for his performances of Spanish music, notably many classics from the zarzuela repertoire, which he continued to perform live on stage in Spain until the end of his career, and many of which he recorded complete for EMI Spain as well as for his own label, Carillon.
A voice type classifies a singing voice by vocal range, vocal weight, tessitura, vocal timbre, vocal transition points (passaggia) like breaks and lifts, and vocal register. Voice classification was developed for European classical music and seldom applies to other kinds of singing; voice classification is in the opera to pair roles with voices. Several different voice classification systems are available to identify voice types, including the German Fach system and the choral music system among many others; no system is universally applied or accepted.
L'elisir d'amore is a comic opera in two acts by the Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti. Felice Romani wrote the Italian libretto, after Eugène Scribe's libretto for Daniel Auber's Le philtre (1831). The opera premiered on 12 May 1832 at the Teatro della Canobbiana in Milan.
I puritani is an opera by Vincenzo Bellini. It was originally written in two acts and later changed to three acts on the advice of Gioachino Rossini, with whom the young composer had become friends. The music was set to a libretto by Count Carlo Pepoli, an Italian émigré poet whom Bellini had met at a salon run by the exile Princess Belgiojoso, which became a meeting place for many Italian revolutionaries.
Thanks to his superlative technique and careful husbanding of his vocal resources, Kraus sang onstage until his early 70s. He studied voice technique in Milan with Mercedes Llopart.
Kraus was also noted for extremely refined musicianship, accompanied by a seemingly effortless high register. As a result, many opera connoisseurs consider him to be one of the best tenors of the end of the 20th century. He was admired for his cultivated musical education and his complete respect for his chosen profession. His first priority was the integrity of his artistic interpretation of a piece, rather than his formidable range and excellent technique.
He performed all over the world, including the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Teatro Municipal in Caracas, Teatro Municipal in Santiago, Chile, Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro, and the Liceu in Barcelona.
In 1991, Kraus was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award. In 1997, his home city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria opened The Alfredo Kraus Auditorium in his honor.
The loss of his wife in 1997 affected Kraus so deeply that he stopped performing for eight months. A proud and strong-willed man, he eventually returned to the stage and to teaching. He said, "I don't have the will for singing but I must do it, because, in a sense, it is a sign that I have overcome the tragedy. Singing is a form of admitting that I'm alive."
Kraus died on 10 September 1999 in Madrid, at the age of 71, after a long illness.
Jozef Kundlák is a Slovak tenor.
Marcelo Raúl Álvarez is an Argentine lyric tenor who achieved international success starting in the mid-1990s.
Ramón Vargas is a Mexican operatic tenor. Since his debut in the early '90s, he has developed to become one of the most acclaimed tenors of the 21st century. Known for his most expressive and agile lyric tenor voice, he is especially successful in the bel canto repertoire.
Ferruccio Tagliavini was an Italian operatic tenor mainly active in the 1940s and 1950s. Tagliavini was hailed as the heir apparent to Tito Schipa and Beniamino Gigli in the lyric-opera repertory due to the exceptional beauty of his voice, but he did not sustain his great early promise across the full span of his career.
Sebastián Julián Gayarre Garjón, better known as Julián Gayarre, was a Spanish opera singer who created the role of Marcello in Donizetti's Il Duca d'Alba and Enzo in Ponchielli's La Gioconda.
Arturo Chacón Cruz is a Mexican operatic tenor. A winner of the Operalia competition in 2005, he went on to sing leading roles at many North American opera houses, including Los Angeles Opera, Washington National Opera, and Houston Grand Opera. He has also appeared in many European opera houses, including the Teatro Real in Madrid, La Fenice in Venice, the Theater an der Wien in Vienna and the Berlin State Opera.
Enrico Di Giuseppe was a celebrated American operatic tenor who had an active performance career from the late 1950s through the 1990s. He spent most of his career performing in New York City, juggling concurrent performance contracts with both the New York City Opera (NYCO) and the Metropolitan Opera during the 1970s and 1980s. In the latter part of his career he was particularly active with the New York Grand Opera.
Giacinto Prandelli was an Italian operatic tenor, particularly associated with the Italian and French repertoires.
Salvatore Fisichella is an Italian operatic tenor known for his roles in bel canto operas, especially those of Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini. He has been recognized for the ease and vocal brilliance of his singing, and for having sung more of the leading roles in Bellini's operas than any other 20th century tenor.
Giuseppe Cremonini was an Italian operatic tenor who had a prominent opera career in Europe and the United States during the last decade of the nineteenth century.
Michael Fabiano is an American operatic tenor. Born in Montclair, New Jersey, he has performed in leading opera houses throughout the world, including the San Francisco Opera, Metropolitan Opera, Paris Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Canadian Opera Company, Teatro Real, and The Royal Opera among many others. Fabiano is the 2014 Richard Tucker Award winner and the 2014 Beverly Sills Artist Award winner, making him the first singer to win both awards in the same year.
Laura Alonso Padín is a Spanish operatic soprano. She began her career in 1999 when she became a member of the Aalto Theatre in Essen, Germany. She has appeared as a guest artist with major theatres and musical ensembles internationally.
Lodovico Graziani was an Italian operatic tenor. According to John Warrack and Ewan West, writing in The Oxford Dictionary of Opera: "His voice was clear and vibrant, but he lacked dramatic gifts." He is now mainly remembered for having created the role of Alfredo Germont in the world premiere of Giuseppe Verdi's La traviata in 1853.
James Valenti is an American operatic tenor with an active international career specializing in leading roles in the Italian and French repertoire. Born and raised in New Jersey, in the United States, he is a graduate of West Virginia University and the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Valenti made his professional debut in 2003 as Rodolfo in La bohème at the Rome Opera, and was the 2010 winner of the Richard Tucker Award.
Celso Albelo is a Spanish operatic tenor. He has sung leading roles in many opera houses including Teatro alla Scala ; the Royal Opera House, Teatro La Fenice.
María José Montiel is a Spanish mezzo-soprano opera singer born in Madrid. In 2011 she was awarded the Premio Teatro Campoamor for her interpretation of Carmen by the Fundación Premio Líricos Teatro Campoamor.
Arthur Davies was a Welsh tenor who had an active international performance career from the 1970s through the 1990s. He performed leading roles with The Royal Opera in London, the Welsh National Opera, the Scottish Opera, and the English National Opera.
Josep Bros i Jiménez and primarily performing under the name José Bros, is a Catalan operatic tenor particularly known for his performances in the bel canto repertoire both on stage and in full-length opera recordings.
Bruno Comparetti is a contemporary Franco-Sicilian tenor. He studied singing in Barcelona with the Spanish tenor Edouardo Gimenez who taught him the art of bel canto as well as the singing technique inherited from his friend and teacher, Spanish tenor Alfredo Kraus.