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It’s a countertenor to the rescue

OPERA-GOERS are used to topsy-turvy gender roles, with women most frequently singing “trouser” parts such as Cherubino in Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” or Octavian in Strauss’ “Der Rosenkavalier.” Even so, some people might be surprised by the Metropolitan Opera’s announcement that countertenor David Daniels will replace mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson in a new production of Gluck’s “Orfeo ed Euridice” slated for May. Hunt Lieberson died July 3.

“The vocal range the role requires can be sung either by a mezzo-soprano or a countertenor,” Met general press representative Peter Clark said Tuesday.

In fact, Gluck wrote the role for an alto castrato for the Vienna premiere in 1762 and rewrote the opera for a tenor -- the regular kind -- for the Paris premiere in 1774. Countertenors today often sing roles created for male castratos because their vocal ranges more or less overlap.

In the announcement, Peter Gelb, who becomes general manager Aug. 1, said the Met will dedicate the performances to the memory of Hunt Lieberson “to commemorate Lorraine’s extraordinary artistry and tremendous generosity of spirit.”

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Met music director James Levine will conduct. Choreographer Mark Morris will be the stage director. Scottish soprano Lisa Milne will sing Euridice.

-- Chris Pasles


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