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Updated by Paul Hugh O'Mahony on Jul 13, 2023
Headline for Greatest tenors sing "Che gelida manina" from La Boheme by Puccini
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Greatest tenors sing "Che gelida manina" from La Boheme by Puccini

Who sang it best? Live & in recording studio. This is a list of the greats - tenors who sang the aria 'Che Gelida Manina" from Act 1 of La Boheme by Puccini (22 Dec 1858 – 29 Nov 1924) premiered Turin 1896, conducted by Arturo Toscanini. "I lived that Bohème, when there wasn't yet any thought stirring in my brain of seeking the theme of an opera" - Puccini

Giuseppe Sabbatini

Play List : Part : 05/18 , Tokyo 2006 Neil Shicoff , Giuseppe Sabbatini & Vincenzo La Scola Nicola Luisotti conducting.

Giuseppe di Stefano - (Studio recording)

Such a secure singer - in whose arms you could listen forever...

(24 July 1921 -- 3 March 2008) Italian known for his long association with Maria Callas, with whom he performed and recorded many times

Enrico Caruso - (Remastered)

in this remastered recording he is accompanied by the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra. The vocals were recorded on February 11, 1906 in New York and the instrumentals were recorded in April, 2002 in Vienna.

Enrico Caruso (1906)

From 11th February 1906, NY. Maybe the only recording of Che gelida manina Caruso ever did.

Beniamino Gigli - (Studio Recording)

Beniamino Gigli (March 20, 1890 - November 30, 1957) was an Italian singer, maybe the greatest operatic tenor of all time.

Jose Carreras live 1982

Conducted by James Levine

When I lived in London 1975-93, I was fortunate to see José perform in Covent Garden many times. This video is way up there in my estimation - he looks irresistible


Jussi Björling - (1956)

Jussi Björling - (1956)

I have Paul O'Mahony @Omaniblog for guiding me to Jussi Björling, which caused me to look further in to this great tenor. This version of the aria is stupendous, and Björling plays his part on stage better than others I've seen.
My favourite version now !
N.B. Renata Tebaldi plays the most sincere Mimi I've seen so far.


Mario Lanza before his prime.

Mario Lanza before his prime.

A wonderful voice, that sadly due to an early demise, didn't get the chance to develop fully into what would have been one of the best tenors in history. I feel he could have produced one of the top three versions of this aria.

Luciano Pavarotti live 1990

Luciano Pavarotti sings "Che gelida manina" from Puccini's opera "La Bohème" Luciano Pavarotti as Rodolfo, Mirella Freni as Mimi San Francisco Opera 1990