David Daniels (countertenor)

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David Daniels
Born (1966-03-12) 12 March 1966 (age 53)
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
Years active1992–present
Spouse(s)Scott Walters

David Daniels (born 12 March 1966) is an American countertenor.


Daniels was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the son of two singing teachers. He began to sing as a boy soprano, moving to tenor as his voice matured. His father, baritone Perry Daniels, was one of the pre-eminent members of the performing faculty during each summer at Brevard Music Center, linked to the School of Music at Converse College in Spartanburg; his mother was an operatic soprano. Daniels studied music at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. Dissatisfied with his achievements as a tenor, Daniels switched to singing countertenor during graduate studies at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance (Master of Music in 1992) under the guidance of his teacher, George Shirley.


Daniels in concert with the U. S. Army Chorus and Orchestra
Daniels appears as Oscar Wilde in Oscar at Opera Philadelphia, 2015

Daniels made his professional singing debut in 1992. In 1997, he won the Richard Tucker Award. In 1999, he made his debut with the Metropolitan Opera, as Sesto in Handel's Giulio Cesare.

His repertoire has grown to include other major Handel roles, including Arsace in the comedy Partenope at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and San Francisco Opera in 2014; the title role in Tamerlano; and Arsamene in Xerxes. At the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, Daniels played the title roles in Rinaldo and Orlando, as well as David in Saul. He interpreted Ottone in Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea and recorded the role of Nero in the same work; it was also his debut role at San Francisco Opera in 1998.[1] In Vivaldi's opera Bajazet, he sang the role of Tamerlano. In 2013, he sang the title role in Giulio Cesare at the Metropolitan Opera.

Daniels has also branched out from the baroque roles usually associated with countertenors to include Oberon in Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Metropolitan Opera, and as Orfeo in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. In July 2013 he created the role of Oscar Wilde in Oscar at the Santa Fe Opera, written for him by Theodore Morrison;[2] he then sang Oscar again in Opera Philadelphia's production in 2015. The same year he made his debut at the Vienna State Opera as Trinculo in Thomas Adès' opera The Tempest.[3]

In the Fall 2015, Daniels joined his alma mater, the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, as Professor of Music in Voice.[4] While teaching at the school, Daniels will continue an active career as a performer.

Art songs[edit]

In addition to his operatic work, Daniels also gives regular recitals, for which he has developed a repertoire that includes 19th- and 20th-century art songs not usually associated with countertenors, including works by such composers as Berlioz and Poulenc.

Personal life[edit]

Daniels married conductor Scott Walters, at Dumbarton House in Washington, on June 21, 2014; the ceremony was conducted by United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.[5][3]

Sexual assault allegations[edit]

In the fall of 2018, Daniels was placed on leave with the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance after allegations of sexual assault were made by a student in August 2018.[6] A second student accused Daniels of sexual assault, and brought civil lawsuits against both Daniels and the University of Michigan, in October 2018.[7] Following this, the San Francisco Opera removed Daniels from its 2019 production of Orlando "after considerable deliberation given the serious allegations of sexual assault."[7] On January 29, 2019, Daniels and his husband were arrested in Ann Arbor, Michigan and face extradition to Texas based on the first student’s allegations.[8]


  1. ^ https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/02/08/sf-opera-names-replacement-to-david-daniels-in-orlando-following-sex-assault-charges/
  2. ^ David Daniels, "More on Oscar", theodoremorrisonmusic.com. Retrieved 22 March 2013
  3. ^ a b "Return of the king", interview by Roy Wood, parterre box, January 28, 2015
  4. ^ "U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance - News". University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
  5. ^ Kettle, Martin (23 August 2001). "Get back in the closet". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  6. ^ "Lawsuit accuses opera singer David Daniels of sexual assault". Seattle Times. Associated Press. 24 October 2018. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  7. ^ a b Kosman, Joshua (8 November 2018). "SF Opera removes David Daniels from production amid sexual assault allegations". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  8. ^ "University of Michigan opera professor, husband charged with sexual assault in Texas". mlive.com. Retrieved 4 February 2019.

External links[edit]