June 2007

Hansen wows the Europeans


Young Australian countertenor David Hansen who has been wowing audiences in the northern hemisphere since he moved from his native Sydney in 2004, is returning for a Brisbane recital this month.

It is a quick visit home between performances as Nireno in Giulio Cesare, conducted by René Jacobs at London's Barbican Hall in April and a production of the same work for Den Norske Opera in Oslo, Norway, with Rinaldo Alessandrini conducting Sharolyn Kimmorley accompanies him for the Brisbane concert at St Stephen's Cathedral featuring arias from Giulio Cesare with the gypsy songs of Antonin Dvorák in the second half.

"Mum and Dad are coming up for the concert which will be nice," said the singer who regards his performance in the 2003 St Stephen's concert series as a catalyst for his current international success.

He has been working constantly since making his European debut in 2004 at the Aix-en-Provence Festival as the Spirit in Dido and Aeneas, and his UK debut in 2005 in concerts with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Emmanuelle Haïm.

It was the start of a busy career. Last year he sang the title role of Handel's Solomon on tour with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under René Jacobs and he made his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Simon Rattle in Carmina Burana. "I thought that working with Simon Rattle would be a high pressure affair; however, his warm personality and constant encouragement nullified any nerves I thought I might have had working with him," Hansen said after this debut.

Already this year he has performed in Monteverdi's L'Orfeo in Vienna and for the Deutsche Staatsoper in Berlin where he also sang in the double-bill of Monteverdi's Vespers and Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, all with Jacobs conducting.

Coming up for 2008 are Tolomeo in Giulio Cesare in Belgium and Amsterdam, Britten's Canticles with Ian Bostridge (tenor), Christopher Maltman (baritone), Julius Drake (piano) in Vienna and Handel arias with the Melbourne and Queensland Symphony Orchestras and Canadian conductor Bernard Labadie in September- October. In May 2009 he sings Trinculo in The Tempest by Thomas Adès in Amsterdam.

It has been a rapid rise for the singer born in 1981, described by a New York critic as "a pure-voiced young Australian who is typical of a new breed of matinée-idol counter-tenors".

Postscript: Hansen makes his debut in the title role of Giulio Cesare with Victorian Opera in 2010.

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