Christophe Dumaux © IMG Artists
Christophe Dumaux
© IMG Artists
October is Baroque Month here at Bachtrack. Recent years have seen the unstoppable rise of the countertenor – they're everywhere! We thought it was about time we caught up with some of today's leading countertenors to find out more.

French countertenor Christophe Dumaux made his professional debut singing Eustazio in Handel’s Rinaldo at the Festival de Radio France, Montpellier, in a production, conducted by René Jacobs. He has since appeared in the world's leading opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Glyndebourne, Opéra de Paris, Chicago, Santa Fe and the Salzburg Festival

How do you explain the explosion in popularity of countertenors?

To be totally honest, I've no idea.

Which is your favourite opera role and why?

I don't have a favorite role, but a favorite style of role. Bad guys. Why? Because I can't be bad in real life, and occasionally it can feel good to have the chance to act badly. 

When did you discover your countertenor voice?

I was in a boys choir, singing alto and I decided to work on becoming a countertenor after hearing James Bowman. I was also attracted to countertenor repertoire, particularly Handel, far more than melody and Lied and the classic baritone repertoire.

What is your approach to da capo ornamentation? Is there a balance to be found between florid fireworks and good taste?!

90% of the time it’s the conductor who decides the ornamentation.  On the rare occasions you have the possibility to compose your own da capo, it’s a real mix between showing off the possibilities of your vocal range, both high and low, the style, the mood of the aria and of course, what it’s possible to sing with the harmony. But after almost 15 years now, the da capi come to me pretty easily, a little like improvisation. 

What’s the strangest thing you’ve been asked to do on an operatic stage?

I had to masturbate while reading a porn magazine…

Christophe Dumaux (Tolomeo) in <i>Giulio Cesare</i>, Salzburg 2012 © Hans Jörg Michel
Christophe Dumaux (Tolomeo) in Giulio Cesare, Salzburg 2012
© Hans Jörg Michel