tenor de medio carácter

English translation: mezzo carattere tenor / half-character tenor

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
Spanish term or phrase:tenor de medio carácter
English translation:mezzo carattere tenor / half-character tenor
Entered by: Charles Davis
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16:13 Jun 25, 2018
Spanish to English translations [PRO]
Music / Opera
Spanish term or phrase: tenor de medio carácter
This is talking about the part of Lindoro in the opera L'Italiana in Algiers. Mid-range is just a guess.
Castilian Spanish to UK English

original
Lindoro (interpretado por primera vez por Serafino Gentili) posee la vocalidad típica del tenor de medio carácter: melancólica, lánguida y llena de suspiros, como se desprende, en particular, en el primer tiempo de su cavatina del primer acto, Languir per una bella.

rough draft
Lindoro (first performed by Serafino Gentili) has the typical voice of a mid-range tenor: melancholy, languid and sighing, especially notable in the first half of his cavatina in act one, Languir per una bella.
S Ben Price
Spain
Local time: 06:45
mezzo carattere tenor
Explanation:
As is so often the case with Italian musical terms, Spanish translates it and English leaves it in Italian. "Mezzo carattere should really go in italics; some people put it in quotation marks.

This refers to a tenor who is midway between "serio" and "buffo" (comic). It refers in the first instance to a type of role, and also to a type of voice suited to that type of role. In opera, casting is largely by voice type: people are naturally endowed with a certain type of voice that suits them for the vocal requirements of certain types of parts.

This tripartite classification of operatic roles as serious, comic and in-between goes back to eighteenth-century Italian opera and was very much current in Rossini's day.

This is from a PhD on tenors in Mozart:

"This dichotomy helps to define Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte as drammi giocosi, a hybrid operatic genre that mixes elements of opera seria and opera buffa, and features interactions between three distinct strata of characters: high (parti serie), middle (di mezzo carattere) and low (parti buffi). […]
Goldoni combined character types from serious operas (parti serie), usually a pair of noble lovers, with the ragtag of servants, peasants and others (parti buffi) who populated his unalloyed comic librettos. Sometimes he also added roles that were halfway between the two in character (di mezzo carattere). His name for such an amalgam, applied fairly consistently from 1748 on, was dramma giocoso). […]”

It doesn’t just apply to tenors; it refers to the dramatic nature of the character:

“The middle characters (di mezzo carattere) of the opera are Don Giovanni and Donna Elvira.”
https://libres.uncg.edu/ir/uncg/f/Hinson_uncg_0154D_10297.pd...

"That said, though, identifying a typical Rossinian triangle is far from straightforward [...] The prima donna's pre-eminence established and undisputed [...], in comic opera the corresponding love rôle was usually in the tenor range, and 'mezzo carattere' (that is, neither completely serious nor completely comic). The antagonist was a 'buffo', a male character of low vocal register, and a comic part [...] This vocal triangle is exemplified clearly by Isabella, Lindoro and Taddeo in L'Italiana in Algeri..."
Emanuele Senici, The Cambridge Companion to Rossini, p. 100
https://books.google.es/books?id=aWTxdSgkDTwC&pg=PA100&lpg=P...

So Lindoro is a mezzo carattere tenor role.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr (2018-06-25 17:50:21 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

"Yet critical appraisals of Baglioni by his contemporaries were mixed; and he never seems to have reached the highest rank in his profession, either as a mezzo carattere tenor--the singer who typically portrayed the serious young lover in comic operas--or as a tenor in opera seria"
https://www.scribd.com/document/215229959/Antonio-Baglioni-M...

From a review of a critical edition of L’Italiana in Algeri:
"it is not always easy to find a bass with sufficient fluidity for Mustafà or a tenor di mezzo carattere for Lindoro who can patter and take in high C’s without effort"
https://academic.oup.com/ml/article-abstract/66/1/73/1155077...

However, Toni is right, and I should go back on what I said about English not translating it. Actually people do refer to "half-character" tenors:

" a versatile singer who could play in half-character and buflo roles"
The Cambridge Companion to Eighteenth-Century Opera, p. 97
https://books.google.es/books?id=Oq7a19TDlAcC&pg=PA97&lpg=PA...

" His is a big voice with that bronze quality that makes him perfect for these half character roles."
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/rec.music.opera/2bA8...

So you can put either half-character tenor or mezzo carattere tenor.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 4 hrs (2018-06-25 20:48:35 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

(Mind you, "half character" is not really a very good translation of "mezzo carattere"; "mixed character" or "middling character" would be more accurate. But for better or worse "half character" is what people say.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 16 hrs (2018-06-26 08:23:54 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Just to clarify: when I said that "medio carácter" refers in the first instance to a type of role, and also to a type of voice suited to that type of role, I meant that it refers by extension to a type of voice; "tenor de medio carácter" is not actually a type of voice in itself. To describe someone as having "la vocalidad típica del tenor de medio carácter" means that he has a type of voice suited to mezzo carattere/"half-character" tenor roles and typical of those who sing such roles. That type of voice will generally be what is known as a "light" or "graceful" tenor, as Serafino Gentile was. The supreme example currently active is Juan Diego Flórez, who has sung Lindoro, needless to say. Alfredo Krauss was also a great tenore di grazia.
Selected response from:

Charles Davis
Spain
Local time: 06:45
Grading comment
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
4 +3mezzo carattere tenor
Charles Davis
Summary of reference entries provided
Vocal category (tenor) fwiw/hth
writeaway

  

Answers


1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
mezzo carattere tenor


Explanation:
As is so often the case with Italian musical terms, Spanish translates it and English leaves it in Italian. "Mezzo carattere should really go in italics; some people put it in quotation marks.

This refers to a tenor who is midway between "serio" and "buffo" (comic). It refers in the first instance to a type of role, and also to a type of voice suited to that type of role. In opera, casting is largely by voice type: people are naturally endowed with a certain type of voice that suits them for the vocal requirements of certain types of parts.

This tripartite classification of operatic roles as serious, comic and in-between goes back to eighteenth-century Italian opera and was very much current in Rossini's day.

This is from a PhD on tenors in Mozart:

"This dichotomy helps to define Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte as drammi giocosi, a hybrid operatic genre that mixes elements of opera seria and opera buffa, and features interactions between three distinct strata of characters: high (parti serie), middle (di mezzo carattere) and low (parti buffi). […]
Goldoni combined character types from serious operas (parti serie), usually a pair of noble lovers, with the ragtag of servants, peasants and others (parti buffi) who populated his unalloyed comic librettos. Sometimes he also added roles that were halfway between the two in character (di mezzo carattere). His name for such an amalgam, applied fairly consistently from 1748 on, was dramma giocoso). […]”

It doesn’t just apply to tenors; it refers to the dramatic nature of the character:

“The middle characters (di mezzo carattere) of the opera are Don Giovanni and Donna Elvira.”
https://libres.uncg.edu/ir/uncg/f/Hinson_uncg_0154D_10297.pd...

"That said, though, identifying a typical Rossinian triangle is far from straightforward [...] The prima donna's pre-eminence established and undisputed [...], in comic opera the corresponding love rôle was usually in the tenor range, and 'mezzo carattere' (that is, neither completely serious nor completely comic). The antagonist was a 'buffo', a male character of low vocal register, and a comic part [...] This vocal triangle is exemplified clearly by Isabella, Lindoro and Taddeo in L'Italiana in Algeri..."
Emanuele Senici, The Cambridge Companion to Rossini, p. 100
https://books.google.es/books?id=aWTxdSgkDTwC&pg=PA100&lpg=P...

So Lindoro is a mezzo carattere tenor role.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr (2018-06-25 17:50:21 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

"Yet critical appraisals of Baglioni by his contemporaries were mixed; and he never seems to have reached the highest rank in his profession, either as a mezzo carattere tenor--the singer who typically portrayed the serious young lover in comic operas--or as a tenor in opera seria"
https://www.scribd.com/document/215229959/Antonio-Baglioni-M...

From a review of a critical edition of L’Italiana in Algeri:
"it is not always easy to find a bass with sufficient fluidity for Mustafà or a tenor di mezzo carattere for Lindoro who can patter and take in high C’s without effort"
https://academic.oup.com/ml/article-abstract/66/1/73/1155077...

However, Toni is right, and I should go back on what I said about English not translating it. Actually people do refer to "half-character" tenors:

" a versatile singer who could play in half-character and buflo roles"
The Cambridge Companion to Eighteenth-Century Opera, p. 97
https://books.google.es/books?id=Oq7a19TDlAcC&pg=PA97&lpg=PA...

" His is a big voice with that bronze quality that makes him perfect for these half character roles."
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/rec.music.opera/2bA8...

So you can put either half-character tenor or mezzo carattere tenor.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 4 hrs (2018-06-25 20:48:35 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

(Mind you, "half character" is not really a very good translation of "mezzo carattere"; "mixed character" or "middling character" would be more accurate. But for better or worse "half character" is what people say.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 16 hrs (2018-06-26 08:23:54 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Just to clarify: when I said that "medio carácter" refers in the first instance to a type of role, and also to a type of voice suited to that type of role, I meant that it refers by extension to a type of voice; "tenor de medio carácter" is not actually a type of voice in itself. To describe someone as having "la vocalidad típica del tenor de medio carácter" means that he has a type of voice suited to mezzo carattere/"half-character" tenor roles and typical of those who sing such roles. That type of voice will generally be what is known as a "light" or "graceful" tenor, as Serafino Gentile was. The supreme example currently active is Juan Diego Flórez, who has sung Lindoro, needless to say. Alfredo Krauss was also a great tenore di grazia.

Charles Davis
Spain
Local time: 06:45
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 208

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Toni Castano: Excellent explanation. Apparently an invention by Rossini. "half-character" is also widely accepted in the specialised opera world in English language.
15 mins
  -> Many thanks, Toni :-) It originated before Rossini but is very much associated with him. And you're right; people do use "half-character". I'd better add a note.

agree  neilmac: I prefer to leave it as "mezzo carattere"...
13 hrs
  -> Cheers, Neil! A discerning choice, I feel ;-)

agree  Jane Martin
14 hrs
  -> Many thanks, Jane :-)
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)




Reference comments


15 hrs peer agreement (net): +1
Reference: Vocal category (tenor) fwiw/hth

Reference information:
The term in this question is more musicologist terminology than an actual vocal category.

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenore
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenor
https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenor
Tenore leggero o di grazia: voce dal timbro chiaro e limpido, di limitato volume ma agile; spazia nella zona acuta del registro ed è fornito di capacità virtuosistiche.
Lindoro, L'italiana in Algeri (Gioachino Rossini)
Don Ramiro, La Cenerentola (Gioachino Rossini)
Elvino, La sonnambula (Vincenzo Bellini)
Nemorino, L'elisir d'amore (Gaetano Donizetti)
Ernesto, Don Pasquale (Gaetano Donizetti)
Tonio, La fille du régiment (Gaetano Donizetti)
Fenton, Falstaff (Giuseppe Verdi)

Leggero
Also known as the tenore di grazia, the leggero tenor is essentially the male equivalent of a lyric coloratura. This voice is light, agile, and capable of executing difficult passages of fioritura. The typical leggero tenor possesses a range spanning from approximately C3 to E♭5, with a few being able to sing up to F5 or higher in full voice. In some cases, the chest register of the leggero tenor may extend below C3. Voices of this type are utilized frequently in the operas of Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini and in music dating from the Baroque period.

Leggero tenor roles in operas:

Arturo, I puritani (Bellini)
Count Almaviva, The Barber of Seville (Rossini)
Count Ory, Le comte Ory (Rossini)
Ernesto, Don Pasquale (Donizetti)
Elvino, La sonnambula (Bellini)
Henry Morosus, Die schweigsame Frau (Strauss)
Lindoro, L'italiana in Algeri (Rossini)

writeaway
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this reference comment (and responses from the reference poster)
agree  Rachel Fell: Nice refs.
8 hrs
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