Arts Desk

Don’t Call Him A Falsetto

David Daniels

Wednesday night was opening night for Washington National Opera’s production of Handel’s Tamerlano. The Playbill claims that all of the tickets to this baroque opera are sold, but that doesn’t mean that it was a full house. By the beginning of Act Three it was obvious that there had been a sizable exodus—due no doubt to the role of Tamerlano, which was originally performed by an alto castrato and performed last night by countertenor David Daniels (pictured above).

Daniels is impressive in this role, but the high-pitched countertenor sound is odd to modern ears. (I swear I heard some muffled giggles when he was doing his trills in the third act; perhaps some of these folks were remembering Adam Sandler’s Operaman character from Saturday Night Live.) Let’s just say that bass-baritone Andrew Foster-Williams—who plays Leone, the smallest of the opera's six roles—brought some much-needed heft.

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