An Introduction To The Voice Of The Countertenor

For those of us not well versed in church music or 17th-century opera, hearing a countertenor sing for the first time may come as something of a surprise. Instead of the bold richness of a tenor or the booming tones of a bass, the range of a countertenor rivals that of a female mezzo-soprano. Countertenors are male singers who specifically train their upper-register ‘head voice’ (also known as falsetto). What is their appeal then, when there are plenty of female mezzo-sopranos around who can more than adequately cover this vocal range? But as the following arias will show, the countertenor’s distinctive sound is not something that can be replicated by women.

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