The Lowdown on High (Male) Voices

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Growing up in South Carolina, David Daniels was a precocious boy soprano with two parents who were professional singers. After his speaking voice changed, he struggled to re-make himself as a tenor. But he tells Marilyn Horne that he felt all along that his vocal destiny lay somewhere else.

After we hear about how Daniels found his voice as a countertenor, we ask a more fundamental question: just what is a countertenor – and why all the fuss about the sound?

Plus: Fred Plotkin has answers to your questions, and we hear from another Super-Operavore, "Opera Teen" Harry Rose.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.

Comments [5]

Sarah E. from The Bronx

I am so glad the the Countertenor is finally get the love they so welled earned. Daniels along with Change is a long time fav so thanks again. But do not forget the the great ladies of the the Alto range, like the late(and it bits saying that) Helen Waits among others. Plese give more love to to this range with is often not even the stepsister in Opera. Thank You.

Apr. 29 2013 04:34 PM
dirk holger from olney, md

I can't read notes (both my sons do). So, I go entirely for what I hear and
see and this performance was a) breath taking b) funny c) absolutely enter-
taining (and this with seemingly endless repetitions.) The mixture of styles
in scenery and costumes (at first bewildering) did the whole baroque spec-
tacle very good. Of course, the very end, with the 2 dead men re-emerging on
stage,was so wonderful that I'd like to see this opera again and again and
maybe jump on stage and give them all a hug (after the curtain closed). What
a lively, thrilling performance:thank you to all of you involved in making
these long hours so short and....uplifting! Indeed! Dirk Holger

Apr. 28 2013 03:22 PM
S. L. Greene from Upper West Side

I take issue with the options in your poll on the countertenor voice. Isn't it obvious that not all countertenor voices are alike? The term "countertenor," like "bass," "baritone," & "tenor," merely refers to a certain vocal range, not to quality or timbre. I doubt that you would ever ask people to describe any other vocal range this way. You seem to be looking for a stereotype.

Apr. 27 2013 05:21 PM
Claudia Kruse from Fresno. CA

wonderful interview. I am glad for him that he followed his passion and sang what was normal for him. I first heard a counter tenor in Judus Maccabeus, just wonderful and hauting!!

Apr. 27 2013 12:05 AM
Jacob Ruppert from Manhattanite in Louisiana

During my musical education years, including college, I loathed the countertenor. I felt it was a tenor mocking his grandmother's singing in the church choir. However, two decades later, when I first heard the dulcet tones of David Daniels and the agility of Philippe Jaroussky, I became curious and soon realized there was much more to it, a much greater artistry. I now have many CDs by these two singers as well as Brian Asawa. The history of the countertenor and the plethora of such opera roles was likewise surprising. A whole new dimension.

However, I'm not so sure I would date a countertenor...

Jacob

Apr. 26 2013 09:52 AM

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