Magazine article Opera Canada

Daniel Taylor: A Countertenor Wins High Marks on the International Scene

Magazine article Opera Canada

Daniel Taylor: A Countertenor Wins High Marks on the International Scene

Article excerpt

COUNTERTENOR DANIEL TAYLOR'S BEAUTIFULLY burnished voice is the perfect conduit for the music that flows through the operas of George Frederic Handel. And Taylor was getting ready to achieve success in this medium--singing in oratorios and concerts--when success was suddenly thrust upon him. He kept auditioning for small parts and getting lead roles instead.

It happened first with world-renowned opera director Jonathan Miller. "I went to Europe and auditioned for Nicholas Kraemer, who is perhaps best known for the soundtrack of the film The Madness Of King George," recalls Taylor. "It was for a small part in Handel's Rodelinda." In due course, along came that oh-so-polite British rejection slip in the form of a phone call informing him that, sorry, "the part didn't come your way." "Oh, that's too bad," replied Taylor in his oh-so-polite Canadian way, and that seemed to be that. A week later a fax arrived that said: "You have been forwarded to the lead and Jonathan Miller would like to meet you."

Miller happened to be in New York, so off Taylor went. They discussed Quebec separatism, Quebec politics and then talked a bit about the 28-year-old Taylor's training. He had studied not only music but also literature and theatre as an undergraduate at McGill University in Montreal, then had done graduate work at l'Universite de Montreal. The Ottawa-born Montreal resident had his entire resume ready for delivery. The son of a doctor and nurse, Taylor had played trumpet "badly" as a child and sung in choirs. After his voice broke, his countertenor grew stronger, even though he did some singing as a baritone.

Taylor was also poised to tell Miller--with appropriate modesty, of course--how, once he had decided to become a professional singer, he performed with everyone from Toronto's Tafelmusik and Vancouver's Bach Choir to Montreal's Violons du Roi, as well as groups such as the San Francisco Philharmonic and the Dallas Symphony. European triumphs had followed.

None of this was necessary, however. "There was no audition as such," Taylor remembers. "I think Miller just wanted to see if he liked me, if I was interesting and if I was capable of expressing what he wanted the character to express. I don't really know."

But something obviously sets Taylor apart. Miller was so pleased with the young countertenor that he invited Taylor to appear in his semi-staged version of the St. Matthew Passion in New York once Rodelinda had finished its run.

While the Rodelinda cast, which included Catharine Robbin, crammed a month's worth of rehearsal into a mere days, they were told the hall was sold out and 16 international newspapers would be sending critics. …

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