The role of Cherubino in Mozart's opera "The Marriage of Figaro" is usually sung by a woman dressed in male clothing. Renowned mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade has made it one of her signature roles.
In an unusual move, the Minnesota Opera has cast Resident Artist Cortez Mitchell to sing the so-called "trouser role" in its May production of the Mozart opera. It seems musically appropriate, however, because Mitchell is a countertenor.
Essentially, a countertenor is a male singer who has a deveoped a strong, resonant falsetto and can sing in the alto, mezzo-soprano or soprano ranges.
Mitchell, a native of Detroit, is the Minnesota Opera's first Resident Artist countertenor. After finishing up the season in the Twin Cities, Mitchell will leave the company and join the famous male vocal ensemble Chanticleer in the fall.
Mitchell stopped by Minnesota Public Radio's Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser Studio to talk with host John Birge about the countertenor voice and to sing Cherubino's aria, "Voi che sapete."