Asawa, Brian, admirable American countertenor; b. Fullerton, Calif., Oct. 1, 1966. He received vocal training in N.Y. In 1991 he became the first countertenor to win the Metropolitan Opera Auditions. In 1991-92 he honed his craft at the San Francisco Opera, and then was awarded a Richard Tucker Music Foundation grant in 1993. He won the countertenor prize in the Plácido Domingo “Operalia” Competition in 1994, and on Feb. 18th of that year he made his Metropolitan Opera debut in N.Y. as the Voice of Apollo in Death in Venice. During the next three seasons, he appeared on both sides of the Atlantic, including engagements in Brussels, Cologne, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Lyons, San Francisco, Seattle, and Göttingen. In 1997 he made an auspicious debut at London’s Covent Garden as Tolomeo, a role he also sang at the Opéra de la Bastille in Paris. His portrayal of Arsamene at the Geneva Opera in 1998 won outstanding critical accolades. That same year, he made debut appearances at the Australian Opera in Sydney as Monteverdi’s Nero and at the Dallas Opera in Admeto. Among his other roles are Farnace in Mitridate, Athamas in Semele, Xenia in Boris Godunov, and Baba the Turk in The Rake’s Progress. In addition to his operatic roles, he has also won approbation for his remarkable performances of the song repertoire, ranging from Elizabethan lute songs to Ned Rorem and Jake Heggie.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire