coun·​ter·​ten·​or | \ ˈkau̇n-tər-ˌte-nər How to pronounce countertenor (audio) \

Definition of countertenor

: a tenor with an unusually high range (such as an alto range)

Examples of countertenor in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Following masking and social distancing protocols, the celebrated countertenor and members of the New York Philharmonic used the flatbed of a pick-up truck as a stage and performed in neighborhoods across New York City’s five boroughs. Anne Quito, Quartz, "Inside the six-month experiment to revive New York’s performing arts scene," 20 Feb. 2021 This was the brainchild of the countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, who accompanied squads of players in more than eighty concerts across the five boroughs. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "What Does It Mean to “Reimagine” an Orchestra Season?," 30 Nov. 2020 The evening’s host was countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, broadcasting from his kitchen, and delightfully whipping up a chocolate soufflé as an intermission treat. Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, "Review: At L.A. and Long Beach operas, the pandemic gives young talent a spotlight," 16 Nov. 2020 One of the most recent is by the engaging French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky. Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, "Why do we feel better after a good cry? In John Dowland’s music, tears open the soul," 11 Nov. 2020 Holiday is a countertenor with a love for opera, and his high range talents shocked the judges, three of whom turned (Blake Sheldon was the odd one out). Lars Brandle, Billboard, "Countertenor John Holiday Blows Away Judges With ‘Incredible’ Range on ‘The Voice’: Watch," 20 Oct. 2020 As the group began its final performance of the day, countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo kicked off the show from the bed of the truck. Robert Bumsted, Star Tribune, "With concert halls shut, NY Philharmonic takes to sidewalk," 13 Oct. 2020 Anthony Roth Costanzo, acclaimed countertenor with the Metropolitan Opera, hopped into the bed of the pickup with a microphone. Evan Simko-bednarski, CNN, "Unable to open its concert hall, New York Philharmonic brings its music to the streets," 29 Aug. 2020 Unnoticed by me was the fact that Tim was a countertenor, and I a bargain basement bass. Kevin Fisher-paulson,, "Fisher-Paulson: As chapters of life begin and others end, it’s good to know your limitations," 16 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'countertenor.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of countertenor

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for countertenor

Middle English countretenour part balancing the tenor, from Middle French contreteneur, from contre- + teneur tenor

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The first known use of countertenor was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

28 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Countertenor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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