countertenor

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countertenor. High male v. not to be confused with male alto, falsetto, or castrato and with a strong, almost instr. purity of tone. Was popular in Handel's and Purcell's lifetimes and has been revived in 20th cent. largely thanks to artistry of Alfred Deller. Several modern composers, incl. Britten in his opera A Midsummer Night's Dream, have written parts for counterten. With the search for authenticity in perf. of early mus., it has reclaimed many roles in baroque works long since assigned to conts. or tens.

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coun·ter·ten·or / ˈkountərˌtenər/ • n. Mus. the highest male adult singing voice (sometimes distinguished from the male alto voice by its strong, pure tone). ∎  a singer with such a voice.

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countertenor Male voice of the same register as the female contralto. It is most common in Britain, where some of the more traditional church choirs still prefer male altos.

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