A star has been born: Freddie De Tommaso earned a standing ovation due to his dramatic and flourishing tenor performance in Tosca at The Royal Opera House


Royal Opera House, London                                                      Until February 22,


The birth of a star. I don’t think anyone who joined in the ovation for 28-year-old Freddie De Tommaso from Tunbridge Wells, including the two Italians going mad in the row behind me, could be in any doubt that we were in at the birth of a great career.

To feel that same feeling in Covent Garden nearly half a century ago, I must go back. 

In a production of Carmen – incidentally, an opera where De Tommaso enjoyed a triumph in Vienna recently – a young Spanish Don José and a first class New Zealand Micaela, stole the show. 

Freddie de Tommaso is a genuine Italianate tenor with a dramatic ring to the voice that enables him to flourish up against the redoubtable Anna Pirozzi (above)

Freddie de Tommaso (above), is an Italianate tenor who has a powerful voice and a real Italianate ring. This allows him to compete with Anna Pirozzi (above).

I had no doubt that these two were stars in the making, and Placido Domingo and Kiri Te Kanawa didn’t let me down.

Back to Freddie. It’s not a voice dripping with honey like Pavarotti or Joseph Calleja. He is not a soaring baritone, like Jonas Kaufmann or Domingo.

He’s a genuine Italianate tenor, as befits his Italian heritage, with a dramatic ring to the voice that enables him to flourish up against the redoubtable Anna Pirozzi, who repeated her triumph last month as Lady Macbeth with an exceptional Tosca.

Claudio Sgura, The Scarpia, was a charismatic and passionate pirate figure. His voice, however, is not quite as good.

In the role of Cavaradossi – which De Tommaso is the first British tenor to sing in almost 60 years at Covent Garden – he not only stood up well to his two experienced colleagues but flourished despite the crude, over-loud conducting of another debutante, the Ukrainian Oksana Lyniv, who did her best to drown him out in his opening aria but mercifully didn’t quite succeed.

Young Freddie, my only concern is to not do too many things too quickly. 

He’s already well established in Vienna, and as the offers pour in, as they undoubtedly will, he and his handlers need to remember the sad example of Rolando Villazón, whose voice collapsed through overuse.

Lyniv, by the way is being considered to replace Antonio Pappano at the Royal Opera’s music department. On this evidence, that’s a ludicrous proposition. Perhaps in 10 or 20 years. But not right now.