Site history – François Nouvion's great project

Born in Paris, France, on October 25th, 1943, François Nouvion spent his life in Switzerland, where he studied, the USA, where he worked, and the Philippines, where he retired to, and where he died, all of a sudden, on June 18th, 2016.

His occupation had been in the IT industry, but his true vocation was opera: having started to collect operatic records, photos and books as a teenager already, he became an eminent expert, and a passionate one – particularly on tenors. His passion could make him quite belligerent at times, which damaged his reputation with some fellow collectors; but his heritage to the world is beyond any such bickering: he created the most complete website on tenors, an encyclopedia beyond comparison, in which he had invested many years of his life and all his huge love for opera.

This project was, and is still, as hopeless as it is fascinating: the aim, which can of course never be achieved, is to document every classical tenor since the invention of the recording process (plus an illustrious few from earlier times), with at least one recording (if they made any!), a discography (under the same condition of course), a picture, and a biography or at least a career outline.

Nouvion's website, which is still the core of the present Historical Tenors website, was as remarkable in scope as in the process of generating its content: back then in 1997, when he started it, web 2.0 was not even a term yet, and user-generated content far from being a concept. But Nouvion anticipated web 2.0 in a, say, pedestrian way, congruent with the technological possibilities of the time: he called upon the readers of his site to contribute recordings, pictures, biographies, chronologies, discographies, articles... whatever they could. And lots of collectors and voice experts obliged, and sent him their material (by email, of course – mind you, web 2.0 was yet to be invented!), which he layouted and published. In our times, the so-called Social Media prove every day, no: every second what legendary Bavarian comedian Karl Valentin once said: "Es ist alles schon gesagt, nur noch nicht von allen" (Everything has already been said, yet not by everybody). And so I'm going to continue the site the same "web 1.5" way Mr. Nouvion once started it. On Youtube, proof can easily be found that for literally every recording, may it be as horrible as imaginable, there is at least one tone-deaf idiot who calls it "certainly the best recording ever made of this piece". In my opinion, this kind of "comments" is good for nothing (except for proving how many tone-deaf idiots there are out there), and so the Historical Tenors website doesn't still (and never will) enable posting comments on your own. All substantial contributions are of course most welcome, but please: by email to

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