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This page hasn't been posted in for month, but I will add my cents anyways. Countertenors are great when it works and/or when the support is appropriate, but once you hear male altos and contraltos sing with their chest voice, the falsetti countertenor becomes a bit redundant and dull.
 

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I heard a true countertenor in recital today. This was a big black dude too. It was surprising to hear that pitch coming out of his mouth, but once one got past that, it was lovely. It didn't sound a bit falsetto.
He performed Es ist vollbracht! from St. John Passion, J. S. Bach
 

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I prefer avoiding countertenors as much as possible. I saw one in the sung-in-English Julius Ceasar (DVD, Handel), Bowman, who is excellent in the particular role there. I like that one countertenor in that one DVD and on the CD soundtrack of it.

Couple weeks ago I saw Handel's Alcina live. They used a countertenor. While I prefer an also in the role of Ruggerio, this particular countertenor did a remarkably good job of it.

Found an interesting article on countertenors and their historic castrato forefathers. Here is a quote:
Philippe Jaroussky admitted that his cherubic sound can provoke an "element of repulsion" saying, "It's true that there is something potentially ridiculous about this voice coming out of a man's body. People talk about the countertenor being a third sex, or something quasi female."
 

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Falsettists can be very good but I'm not keen on the current trend in tone quality. Traditionally it would have been described as a 'white' sound, lacking depth and colour.

For a more substantial sound you need a real countertenor. Here is Russell Oberlin explaining the difference. Notice how high his speaking voice is (his speaking voice has a beautiful quality to it as well):


Here is the second part of the video when he sings:

 

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Bach, Brahms, Schubert, Sibelius, Mahler, Messiaen
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Countertenors are hit-or-miss for me, but there's one role where I really think that one is necessary- in Bach's passions. Erbarme Dich is supposed to convey the anguished penitence of Peter after betraying Christ, and hearing it sung by a woman just doesn't have the same effect for me. Andreas Scholl and Robin Blaze are very good.
 

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Technically and musically Franco Fagioli is a very impressive operatic countertenor. In the tradition of Italian bel canto, which included the castrati, Fagioli is able to effectively use all the vocal registers (chest, medium, high) including a strong baritone. Nicola Porpora in his aria di tempesta 'Passaggier che sulla sponda' written for his pupil, the famous castrato Gaetano Caffarelli, writes the first phrase in the middle octave and the second in the octave below, in order to showcase the two different voices. The castrati had the ability to show this duality, this androgyny, and it continued to be important well into the nineteenth century. In Rossini, for example, especially the trouser-roles like Tancredi or Calbo in Maometto Secondo, there's still this emphasis on showing off the female and male qualities in the same voice.

 

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So Al Deller is 100% forgotten. Sic Ford Transit gloria mundi. I wish I hadn't his last recording (Purcell). It's so stupid to listen to morons like Deller and Purcell when we have Bezos and all these pop stars in bikini
 

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This is quite a comparison! \/


If you go to the YouTube page, you will see their description of what a countertenor is. What do y'all think? Is their definition accurate?

I remember watching another video on YouTube in which the countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo said that his speaking voice supposedly lowered at puberty but not his singing voice. I remember thinking, "That's nonsense!" I really do not see why someone's speaking voice and singing voice would be different ranges. From the This is Opera videos I've watched, singing voice range depends on not only puberty, but also proper use of chest voice, since you could also sing in head voice and falsetto. I might be mixing things up, but I just don't see how countertenor voice is anything other than a person with a lower voice doing special manipulation. Could someone explain? :confused:
 
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