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David Daniels (Counter-tenor)

Born: March 12, 1966 - Spartanburg, South Carolina, USA

The American counter-tenor, David Daniels, is the son of two singing teachers. He began to sing as a boy soprano, moving to tenor as his voice matured. earned an undergraduate degree from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Dissatisfied with his achievements as a tenor, made the daring switch to the counter-tenor range during graduate studies at the University of Michigan with George Shirley.

David Daniels made his professional singing debut in 1992. In 1997, he won the Richard Tucker Award. In 1999, he made his debut with the Metropolitan Opera as Sesto in Giulio Cesare. His repertoire has grown to include other major Georg Frideric Handel's roles, including Julius Caesar: Arsace in the comedy Partenope (at the Lyric Opera of Chicago), the title role in Tamerlano and Arsamene in Xerxes. At the Bavarian State Opera in Munich he played the title roles in Rinaldo and Orlando as well as David in Saul. Furthermore he interpreted Ottone in Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea. In Antonio Vivaldi's opera Bajazet, he sang the role of Tamerlano. Daniels has also branched out from the Baroque roles usually associated with counter-tenors to include Oberon in Benjamin Britten's Midsummer Night's Dream at the Metropolitan Opera and as Orfeo in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. In addition to his operatic work, Daniels also gives regular recitals, for which he has developed a repertoire that includes 19th and 20th century art songs not usually associated with counter-tenors, with works by such composers as Berlioz and Francis Poulenc.

David Daniels is known for his superlative artistry, magnetic stage presence and a voice of singular warmth and surpassing beauty, which have helped him redefine his voice category for the modern public. He has appeared with the world's major opera companies and on its main concert and recital stages. He made history as the first counter-tenor to give a solo recital in the main auditorium of Carnegie Hall. The Chicago Tribune has called Daniels "today's gold standard among countertenors." The Gramophone magazine recently acknowledged his contribution to recorded excellence as well as his expansion of the repertoire for his voice type by naming him one of the "Top Ten Trailblazers" in classical music today.

David Daniels began the 2004-2005 season with performances at three of New York City's most renowned venues. He performed with the Orchestra of St. Luke's in the main auditorium of Carnegie Hall, and with St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble in Carnegie's underground Zankel Hall. He returned to the Metropolitan Opera to make his triumphant role debut as Bertarido in G.F. Handel's Rodelinda. Other cities on Daniels's itinerary during the season included Chicago, for the Lyric Opera's 50th anniversary gala, Boston, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. In Europe, Daniels performed works by J.S. Bach and A. Vivaldi with Fabio Biondi, sang Oberon in B. Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream at Barcelona's Teatre del Liceu (recently released on DVD), and played Farnace in Mozart's early opera Mitridate re di Ponto at London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

David Daniels began his 2005-2006 season at the San Francisco Opera, reprising his portrayal of Bertarido in G.F. Handel's Rodelinda, which won critical acclaim and thrilled audiences at the Metropolitan Opera earlier in 2005. "Mr. Daniels earned well-deserved ovations for his portrayal of Bertarido," raved the New York Times. "He makes the counter-tenor voice seem the most natural sound imaginable. His rich, plaintive, virile and virtuosic singing and his commanding stage presence were captivating in every aria." Other opera appearances that season included his role debut as Orfeo in the Lyric Opera of Chicago's Robert Carsen production of Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, and his first performances in the title role of G.F. Handel's Orlando at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich. Daniels sang recitals in Madrid and Barcelona. He also toured Europe with the Kammerorchester Basel and mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená, and in January he made his Philadelphia Orchestra debut under conductor Bernard Labadie.

The title role in Giulio Cesare figures prominently in David Daniels's 2006-2007 season, when he returns to Glyndebourne to step into David McVicar's spectacular production conducted by Emmanuelle Haïm; later this season he also sings the role for the first time at the Metropolitan Opera. A highlight of Daniels season will be the premiere of a new monologue commissioned by the BBC Symphony Orchestra from the fast-rising British composer, Jonathan Dove which will be premiered in London in September. He will return to the Los Angeles Opera as Ottone in Monterverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea opposite Susan Graham. In concert Daniels makes his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker performing J.S. Bach's Mass in B minor (BWV 232), conducted by Sir Roger Norrington. Other European orchestra engagements include a tour with the Le Point du Jour ensemble which will be heard in Paris, London, Berlin, as well as several other European cities. Other important American orchestral engagements include concerts with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and Seattle Symphony Orchestra. A further seasonal highlight is a new production of Gluck's Orfeo at the Metropolitan Opera directed by Mark Morris and conducted by James Levine.

As much at home in recital as on the opera stage, David Daniels has won admiration for his performances of extensive concert and art song repertoire, including song literature of the 19th and 20th centuries not usually associated with his type of voice. Following his Carnegie Hall recital debut in 2002, the New York Times reported, "There was a sense of occasion in the air, and he didn't disappoint. This was a compelling, even exhilarating recital, covering a wide range of bases in six distinctive sets." Daniels has given recitals at London's Wigmore Hall, New York's Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall and Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center; at Munich's Prinzregententheater and Vienna's Konzerthaus; in Barcelona's Teatre del Liceu; at the Edinburgh, Tanglewood and Ravinia Festivals; as well as in Ann Arbor, Chicago, Lisbon, Toronto, Vancouver and Washington. His French recital debut was a sold-out performance at the Salle Gaveau in Paris.

Daniels has impressed audiences with his interpretation of an array of Handelian heroes, including Giulio Cesare. He has sung Arsace in the comedy Partenope at Lyric Opera of Chicago; the title role in Tamerlano; Arsamene in Xerxes; and two roles at Munich's Bavarian State Opera, where he is a company favorite: David in Saul and the title role in Rinaldo. Other notable Baroque credits include Nerone in Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea, and Orfeo in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice at Covent Garden. Daniels has also performed as Oberon in B. Britten's Midsummer Night's Dream at the Metropolitan Opera.

David Daniels is an exVirgin Classics recording artist, with several critically-acclaimed and best-selling solo albums to his credit. His latest critically applauded release features Berlioz's song cycle Les Nuits d'été, and also includes songs by Ravel and Gabriel Fauré. The New York Times wrote, "The term 'countertenor star' used to be an oxymoron, but David Daniels, for one, has made it a reality. There's no faulting his artistry. He has an unusually round, warm sound. He certainly knows his instrument." Past years' releases include "A Quiet Thing" (with guitarist Craig Ogden), and a recording of G.F. Handel's Rinaldo on the Decca label in which he sang the title role opposite Cecilia Bartoli, and which received a Gramophone Editor's Choice Album of the Year award in 2002. His debut disc was "Handel: Opera Arias" conducted by Sir Roger Norrington, followed by "Sento Amor", with arias by Mozart, Gluck and G.F. Handel, and "Serenade", a recital of songs by L.v. Beethoven, Charles Gounod, Francis Poulenc, Schubert and others with his frequent piano partner Martin Katz.

Honored by the music world for his unique achievements, David Daniels has been the recipient of two of classical music's most significant awards: Musical America's Vocalist of the Year for 1999 and the 1997 Richard Tucker Award.

"To say that he is the most acclaimed countertenor of the day, perhaps the best ever, is to understate his achievement. He is simply a great singer.” The New York Times

More Photos

Source: David Daniels Website (August 2006); Wikipedia Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (July 2008)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Harry Bicket


Selections from BWV 82a, BWV 170, BWV 208, BWV 232, BWV 244, BWV 245

Roger Norrington


BWV 232

Links to other Sites

Countertenor David Daniels, Opera Singer and Musician (Official Website)
David Daniels: Full Biography (IMGArtists)

David Daniels (Wikipedia)

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