Who is Freddie De Tommaso? The star tenor’s recordings, opera roles, family and other facts

30 June 2022, 12:36 | Updated: 24 August 2023, 16:28

Freddie De Tommaso is a leading tenor of his generation.
Freddie De Tommaso is a leading tenor of his generation. Picture: Dana van Leeuwen

By Siena Linton

Meet the 29-year-old opera singer whose tremendous voice is taking the classical music world by storm.

Freddie De Tommaso is a British-Italian tenor, who found widespread fame and adoration in December 2021, when he stepped in at the last minute to rescue a production at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden when their star tenor fell ill.

Standing in for Bryan Hymel, who had to bow out mid-performance due to health reasons, De Tommaso became the youngest tenor to sing the part of Mario Cavaradossi in Puccini’s Tosca at the opera house, and the first British tenor to perform the role in almost 60 years.

Read more: Opera ‘saved’ by 28-year-old tenor as star performer falls ill during Tosca performance

De Tommaso has released two albums so far, both of which have been highly critically acclaimed, and featured as Classic FM’s Album of the Week.

With the release of his debut album, Passione, in March 2021, De Tommaso became the first solo tenor in 20 years to debut at No.1 in the official classical album chart. He followed up his stellar debut in June 2022 with Il Tenore, a selection of favourite tenor arias and duets from the operas of Giacomo Puccini and Georges Bizet which also topped the classical charts.

Here’s everything you need to know about the star tenor.

When was Freddie De Tommaso born?

Born on 20 January 1993 in Tunbridge Wells, De Tommaso joined his school choir at the age of five, and sang as a treble into his teens.

Who are Freddie De Tommaso’s parents and family?

Freddie De Tommaso was born to an Italian father and British mother. His family owned an Italian restaurant in the town, where the playlist reportedly consisted of plenty of Pavarotti, as well as music by Enrico Caruso and other great Italian tenors.

De Tommaso recalls: “My father loved opera and classical music … The car stereo would always be playing the music or Maria Callas, Franco Corelli, Luciano Pavarotti and so many more names who have gone on to influence me as I progressed in my career”.

His mother also nurtured a keen interest in classical music in De Tommaso and his two brothers, taking them to see productions at the Glyndebourne opera festival in Sussex, as well as into London to visit the Royal Opera House.

Read more: Listen to Maria Callas’ vocal range in just 90 seconds (it’s huge)

What is Freddie De Tommaso’s voice type?

Freddie De Tommaso describes himself as a ‘spinto’ tenor, which means his voice has a bright sound quality, but with a weighty force behind it which is put into action at dramatic climaxes. This makes his voice perfectly suited to roles such as Don Jose in Bizet’s Carmen, or Cavaradossi in Puccini’s Tosca.

He has been described as a “vocal phenomenon”, with a distinctly “Italianate” style. De Tommaso recalls hearing music by some of the great Italian tenors while growing up, and credits the likes of Franco Corelli, Mario Del Monaco, and Giuseppe Di Stefano – three tenors of the 1950s and 60s – as his greatest inspirations, having discovered their performances online during his undergraduate degree: “I love the way they sang, and listening to them helps me to develop my own singing and practice”.

Read more: The 20 greatest operas ever written

Freddie De Tommaso - Nessun dorma - Puccini: Turandot, SC 91 / Act 3

Where did Freddie De Tommaso study music?

After leaving school, De Tommaso initially studied languages at university in Bristol, but left before completing his degree.

Returning home, De Tommaso found work in his parents’ Italian restaurant in Tunbridge Wells, and decided to re-connect with his school singing teacher for a few lessons.

One thing led to another, and he ended up singing for Mark Wildman, Professor of Singing and head of the vocal faculty at the Royal Academy of Music in London. De Tommaso was offered a place, graduating in 2018 to join the Royal Academy Opera.

Later that year, he won three prizes at the 2018 Viñas International Singing Competition in Barcelona: the First Prize, the Placido Domingo Tenor Prize, and the Verdi Prize, projecting him into an international career.

Freddie De Tommaso draws inspiration from some of the greatest Italian tenors of the 20th century.
Freddie De Tommaso draws inspiration from some of the greatest Italian tenors of the 20th century. Picture: Dana van Leeuwen

What opera roles has Freddie De Tommaso sung?

As a student at the Royal Academy of Music, Freddie De Tommaso sang Don José in La Tragédie de Carmen and Rodolfo in La bohème. He also made his debut at the Royal Opera House in the 2016/17 season as an Apprentice in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, ahead of his starring role in Tosca in 2020.

In 2018, De Tommaso joined the Bavarian State Opera’s Opera Studio, and in recent years he has debuted at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, Vienna State Opera, and Arena di Verona amongst other world-class music venues.

Still at the beginning of his career, De Tommaso has already worked alongside some of the most respected names in the classical music world including Zubin Mehta, Antonio Pappano, and recently appeared in concert with Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen.

De Tommaso has so far released two studio albums. Passione, in 2021, explored his southern Italian heritage on his father’s side, and celebrated some of his greatest musical inspirations and the songs they made famous, including Innocenzi’s ‘Addio, sogni di gloria!’.

A second album, Il Tenore, followed in 2022, consisting of some of the greatest tenor arias from his recent roles: Puccini’s ‘Nessun dorma’ from Turandot and ‘E lucevan le stelle’ from Tosca, and ‘The Flower Song’ from Bizet’s Carmen.

Freddie De Tommaso - E lucevan le stelle - Puccini: Tosca, SC 69 / Act 3