Countertenor Albums

Jacopo Amigoni, Portrait of Farinelli and his Friends (detail)
Spurred on by my love of Artaserse, which I now know pretty much by heart, I’ve bought rather a lot of albums to supplement my existing collection of countertenor music. Most of the purchases have been from the back catalogues of the opera’s cast members. It’s been a voyage of discovery and a genuine delight, and I thought it’d be fun to share some of them here.

Of course, I have no background in music so I don’t know the technical language to describe what I’m hearing: this is all very much aimed at fellow newbies. If you’re like me – keen on the sound, but floundering a bit about where to start – this might point you to some music you’ll enjoy. The albums are arranged by release date and can be accessed via the links below. I plan to add my full collection over time.

Please feel free to either share your thoughts on the dedicated page for each album, or to recommend other albums here on the header page. Enjoy!

Philippe Jaroussky: Opium (2009)

Listen to this for: something completely different We all know what countertenors sing, right? Renaissance and Baroque music with possibly the odd well-meaning excursion into Rossini. But then you hear Philippe Jaroussky with this collection of Belle Époque songs and you realise that, with the right music, a beautiful voice sounds beautiful no matter what period … Continue reading Philippe Jaroussky: Opium (2009)

Max Cencic: Venezia (2013)

Opera Arias of the Serenissima Listen to this for: Vivaldi, Caldara and friends If you want someone to blame for all this countertenor business, you can point the finger at the Croatian Max Cencic. In February 2013 I returned from Carnevale in Venice, intoxicated with masks and costumes, and bought this album as a way to prolong … Continue reading Max Cencic: Venezia (2013)

The 5 Countertenors (2015)

Listen to this for: grace and fireworks from some of the best countertenors around There’s rather a lot of excited bouncing below, and not an awful lot of knowledgeable critique; but, with three members of Team Artaserse featured here, why not bounce? Let’s establish from the outset what this isn’t. You might think, from the title … Continue reading The 5 Countertenors (2015)

Xavier Sabata: Catharsis (2017)

Listen to this for: fire, tenderness and some amazing Orlandini Xavier Sabata has too often been relegated to the role of secondo uomo in his operatic recordings, but this recital disc proves that he can be dazzling when he takes centre stage. Based around the dramatic concept of catharsis, this album focuses on moments of fear, … Continue reading Xavier Sabata: Catharsis (2017)

5 thoughts on “Countertenor Albums

    • The Idle Woman says:

      Not that I’m aware of, though I haven’t really looked! I think he may have some recordings on YouTube – if you google him, you’ll find his website, which I’m sure will include details of everything he’s done.

  1. Julie T. says:

    A message from Herriot Country from a truly idle woman…(bit Fed Up at the moment!)

    Lovely singing, wonderful music…
    Bach. Sacred Arias & Cantatas. David Daniels…The English Concert…Harry Bicket.
    Also by David Daniels…the album ‘Serenade’
    Hope you’ll try & enjoy both,
    Best wishes from

    • The Idle Woman says:

      Thank you so much for these recommendations, Julie! I always love it when other people share their favourites too. I don’t have either of these yet, but will add them to my list – I think we could all do with the serenity of a Bach cantata at the moment!

      Hoping your idleness won’t last too much longer and you can get back to doing the things you love.

  2. peter rietbergen says:

    dear Idler,

    with your always perceptive and, hence, stimulating reviews of counter tenors/male altos et cetera, I wonder what you think of Jakub Orlinski… Or have i missed your comments?.


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