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David Daniels

  • Countertenor


David Daniels reviews

Opera Reviews

“Mr. Daniels is the quintessential exponent of Handelian style.”

Wall Street Journal, 2008


“Daniels' powerful Arsamenes reconfirmed his status as opera's top countertenor. He distinguished every aria with his purity of sound and clarity of placement, the sense of great vocal force with seeming effortlessness. While fine in arias of frenzied consternation, his role boasts several beautiful laments, and Daniels' work was especially distinguished in that emotionally wounded vein.”

Everett Evans, Houston Chronicle, May 2, 2010

Orfeo ed Euridice

“[F]ew singers sound as poignantly natural as Mr. Daniels: he’s a wonder, with a warm, virile voice of enormous expressivity. The opening scene takes place at a solitary grove where Orfeo mourns over the ashes of Euridice, his beloved wife. As the chorus sang Gluck’s gravely forlorn hymn, Mr. Daniels cried out three times “Euridice,” singing with a haunting blend of intensity and elegance. He also proved a master of ambiguity. During the scene in Elysium when Orfeo, come to claim his wife from the dead, is transfixed by the lush beauty of the sunny fields, Mr. Daniels sang the blissfully subdued aria “Che puro ciel” with awestruck tenderness. At the same time he conveyed the underlying anxiety in Gluck’s dangerously seductive music. This Orfeo had to steel himself lest he become enchanted with life in Elysium.”

Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, May 4, 2007


“The show is built around the formidable presence of David Daniels, today's hottest countertenor. His brilliant and affecting performance in the title role…makes Lyric's "Orfeo" a strong finish to a mostly distinguished season… The emotional focus here is on Orfeo, the divine singer who twice loses his beloved Euridice but finally is reunited with her through the steadfastness of his love. Daniels ravished the ear with a sweet, sensuous sound that took on real intensity as Orfeo went from despair to bitterness to firm resolve. The bereaved hero's famous lament, ‘Che faro senza Euridice?’ was truly heart-rending, resting on a bedrock of impeccable musicality. Good to have him back at Lyric.”

John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune, Feb. 26, 2006

“Singing the role for the first time in a staged production, Daniels had both the vocal resources and acting prowess to carry the evening. Daniels is perhaps the most outstanding countertenor in a surprisingly well-populated international field at the moment…Some countertenor voices, with their mix of high female mezzo and soprano range and large male lung power, are startling at first hearing. Daniels' voice is so pure and natural, his tone so even and round, that no such adjustment is needed... [Orfeo] is essentially a somber character, but Daniels managed to find multiple shades of nuance in a portrait of despair and fury. In the opera's most famous aria, ‘Che faro senza Euridice?’ the youthful color of Daniels high range made Orfeo's desperation all the more wrenching.”

Wynne Delcome, Chicago Sun-Times, Feb. 27, 2006


“In concert performances of the original 1762 version [of Gluck's 'Orfeo ed Euridice'], the American ravished the ear with his limpid falsetto (warmer, more sensual and soprano-like than any other male alto voice I know), his scrupulous musicality, and his heart-rending exposition of the bereaved singer's grief in his famous solo, 'Che farò senza Euridice?' ... Daniels can't come back too soon.”

The Times (London)


“Mr. Daniels earned well-deserved ovations for his portrayal of Bertarido, the deposed king. He makes the countertenor voice seem the most natural sound imaginable. His rich, plaintive, virile and virtuosic singing and his commanding stage presence were captivating in every aria. His voice blended exquisitely with Ms. Fleming’s in their renowned duet of despair at the end of Act II. And after two long acts of solo arias, when Handel finally gives us a duet, it seems like a path-breaking musical stroke.”

Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, Dec. 4, 2004


“Shap[ing] the music as convincingly as [he] dramatizes it—was managed to perfection by countertenor David Daniels, who sang Bertarido, Rodelinda’s missing husband…His laments were plangently gorgeous and his rapid coloratura aria, after saving his rival’s life, was electrifying.”

Tiger Hashimoto, San Francisco Examiner, Sept. 18, 2005



“David Daniels, excelled as the weak-willed Arsace, full-voiced, but nimble and agile in the treacherous coloratura.”

Associated Foreign Press, Feb. 2009


“David Daniels, countertenor in excelsis, returned to the befuddled heroism of Arsace, magnetizing attention with lush tone and breathless flexibility.”

Opera News, May 2003


“Opera singing doesn’t get much better than this…Daniels has a voice like white velvet, gleaming with highlights, intensely focused but with gently rounded edges. Whether furiously raging at the fact that he is torn between Partenope and Rosmira, or simply collapsing in weariness from his struggles, his singing touched the heart. His acting was equally strong, making us truly care about this feckless lover with a weakness for strong-minded women.”

ChicagoSun-Times, Feb. 2003



“Countertenor David Daniels sang the serenade ‘O Lord, whose mercies numberless’ so sublimely that it might well have restored peace of mind to any adman: his laments in Act IV scaled the heights of true tragedy.”

Opera News, Aug. 2003

“The American countertenor David Daniels delivers the genre of music generally called ‘singers’ music’ with incomparable bel canto artistry, vocal virtuosity in every tiny detail of ornamentation, and an inebriating timbral beauty. Daniels became the focal point of the performance, cheered and bravoed at the end by the entire house, as he was during earlier Munich appearances as Monteverdi’s Nero and Handel’s Rinaldo.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung, Apr. 2003


Giulio Cesare

“David Daniels as Julius, the most famous of all the Caesars, should be declared a national treasure. He creates sounds that are unmatchable for tonal beauty.”

Jim Edwards, The Beacon News, November 15, 2007


“Daniels delivered a vocally and dramatically potent Caesar, whose romantic and political liaison drives the music drama. When he sang his ornate "Se in fiorito" in tandem with the solo violin of Florentina Ramniceanu, he all but charmed the birds from the branches.”

John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune, November 5, 2007


“As always, this remarkable artist sang with uncanny agility, his clarion countertenor voice sounding at once tender and virile. He brought incisive attack to the fiery passagework in the defiant arias. But his plaintive singing when Cesare broods over the cremated remains of Pompey and ponders the intransigence of life and the way natural allies can become ruthless enemies was especially memorable.”

Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, April 9, 2007


“Headlining the cast was countertenor David Daniels, who handled the Baroque complexities of Cesare’s music with ease. His ‘Va tacito,’ with obbligato played by virtuoso hornist William Ver Meulen, was understandably cheered by the audience.”

Opera News, February 2004


“Countertenor David Daniels lent his powerful, earthy tone and athletic technique to the title role [Julius Caesar], bringing out both the emperor's indomitable swagger and his touching alteration. His command of the part's showiest writing was unstoppable…Yet his singing could also be grippingly intimate.”

San Francisco Chronicle, June 2002


“Not since Franco Corelli has there been a male opera singer who looked that good, sounded that splendid, had 'Sex Appeal' as his middle name, and was 110 percent invested in the role's emotions and expression…Listening to Daniels' plangent tones when Caesar is shipwrecked, to those furious runs and divisions when he is angered by Pompey's death or to the melting blend with Cleopatra in the duet, is to experience an all-time operatic high.”

Bay Area Reporter, June 2002


“Thursday’s opening also brought the Texas debut of countertenor David Daniels as Cesare…His voice was luscious and athletic, as thrilling in legato singing as in the runs and vocal curlicues that singers merrily chase in so many Handel arias.”

Charles Ward, Houston Chronicle


“On balance, Mr. Daniels took the laurels, delivering a sensational performance. A highly virtuosic singer with pinpoint vocal control and absolute command of the style, Mr. Daniels projected the vigor of his character with every ornamental flourish. His roulades were eloquently shaped and colored, and Caesar's wide range of arias ... showed his considerable expressive scope. The role's relatively low tessitura sits comfortably in Mr. Daniel's voice, making him ideal for the part.”

The Wall Street Journal



“Mr. Daniels's utterly natural singing enables you to forget that he is a supposedly rarefied kind of vocal specialist ... only an encore would satisfy the cheering audience. Mr. Daniels sang Handel's most familiar aria, ‘Ombra mai fu,’ but with a dignity and simplicity that made it fresh.”

The New York Times


A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“How about the countertenor David Daniels, whose appearance as Oberon in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Met two weeks ago had everything? His characterization was sexy and dangerous and brought with it a glorious, powerful voice to boot.”

Wall Street Journal, May 2002


“The great countertenor David Daniels is mesmerizing as Oberon, singing with cool seductiveness.”

The New York Times, Apr. 2002



“Anyone who thinks that the sound of a countertenor is by definition emasculated should go hear David Daniels blaze through Tamerlano's astoundingly virtuosic aria of revenge in Act III.”

The New York Times

“Daniels is perfectly cast in what might be termed one of Handel's raging-tyrant roles in which the character's mercurial, spoiled instability finds perfect expression in neurotic floods of coloratura.”

WashingtonPost, 2008


Blackberry Winter

“Daniels brought to ['Blackberry Winter' by Alec Wilder] a quite wonderful beauty of sound but more important he broke down many long-held resistances to the countertenor voice. This was singing as communication and as such it went straight to the heart. Not a few people in the room were wiping away the odd tear.”

Gramophone, September 2002