Mouth opening in classical tenors compared to belters

I thought it would be interesting to compare mouth opening shape and degree between classical tenors and musical theatre belters. In both tenor acuti and belting, vowels are rather open, so the O in “blow” becomes something more like /ʌ/ or /ɑ/. I have cued these up to the appropriate parts of the video so that you only need to watch each for less than a minute.

All singing the same phrase from “Salut, demeure chate et pure” from Gounod’s “Faust” –
the high note is a C5 on /a/ (the end of the French word “presence”)
Nicolai Gedda
Juan Diego Florez
Alfredo Kraus
Jussi Bjoerling

Carol Burnett C#5 on “…gets your heart” from “A boy like that/I have a love” from “West Side Story” Also notice the “cry” in the voice at the beginning of the clip. This is taught to many tenors. Carol used it often in her singing.
Sutton Foster (last “Gabriel”) C5 from “Blow Gabriel, Blow” from “Anything Goes” (in B-flat)
Patti LuPone several C5s in  “Blow Gabriel, Blow” from “Anything Goes” (in C)
Ethel Merman  several C5s in  “Blow Gabriel, Blow” from “Anything Goes” (in C)

One thought to “Mouth opening in classical tenors compared to belters”

  1. Ingo did a similar presentation at the Salt Lake City national NATS convention about 7 years ago. He also compared mouth openings on vowels between operatic tenors and female belters. That week, there was a master clinician from U of Texas (name escapes me but he was very good) who talked about operatic tenors and musical theater belters in terms of similarities of technical requirements and mouth openings.

    Thank you for the cueing up of examples! Very useful stuff.

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