#WordWednesday: Countertenor

COUNTERTENOR (13 Scrabble points) – Latin – A countertenor is the highest, adult male voice type in opera. Countertenor parts are common in Baroque opera (watch Anthony Roth Costanzo sing “Stille amare” from George Frideric Handel’s Tolomeo below) but they also gained an increased popularity in the mid to late 20th century with the works of Benjamin Britten and Philip Glass. The title character in Akhnaten, which opens at LA Opera in November as part of the 16/17 season is a countertenor part.


Can’t get enough of the countertenor voice? We’ve collected a few articles and videos below to get you in the countertenor spirit.

Opera’s Next Wave – Anthony Roth Costanzo – via Opera News

Judged on purely vocal terms, Costanzo easily qualifies as a first-rate talent: his countertenor is strikingly expressive, with a sparkling soprano color and spin to its sound. But Costanzo is a true singing actor. His performances are complete characterizations, remarkable for their wit and sensitivity and scrupulously detailed. Learn more here.

When A Man Sings Like A Woman: A Countertenor Convergence – via NPR Music

Something truly wonderful, and a bit strange, happens when men sing into the stratosphere. The steady stream of countertenors — men who sing in registers normally reserved for sopranos and altos — never seems to end, thank goodness.

The Greatest Countertenors via Sinfini Music

With a range high enough to rival the female mezzo-soprano, but a distinctive power and richness of tone that sets it apart from any other voice, the countertenor voice is one of the most beguiling in the classical music world. Anna Picard picks ten of the very best singers to have brought the cool back to countertenor.

For information about and tickets to our current season, check out our website. To take a look at the 16/17 season, click here.

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