For writers and translators struggling to find the right mode of expression, the example of the singer David Daniels holds penetrating promise:
Upset that he couldn't control the higher tenor-range tones — "I couldn't sing in the top part of my voice," he says, "everything would flip and crack, flip up into the falsetto" — he sought the help of a therapist who'd worked with singers with stage anxieties.
"I told her about my other voice," said the affable Daniels, 31, chatting at the Opera House recently, "how it felt so natural, how I could do anything I wanted to do with it: sing high and low, soft and loud, and never worry about making an ugly, horrible sound. She didn't understand what I meant by 'other voice,' as if it were separate from me, (when) it's not, it's part of me, who I am."
Daniels decided to "make the switch" to countertenor after consulting with his teacher, George Shirley, who wasn't entirely surprised: Earlier, Daniels had brought him a tape of himself singing a Verdi aria but told him it was a female friend. Shirley loved the sound and after a few minutes realized who it was.
"Everything about me changed," says Daniels, who grew up in a musical family in South Carolina and sang professionally as a boy soprano. "I had a complete air of confidence and security." Switching to countertenor, he says, freed him to do "everything I felt dramatically, musically, technically and emotionally that I couldn't get out as a tenor. I can let myself concentrate on things that are really important — portraying a character and communicating emotion to an audience."
Jesse Hamlin, "Countertenor of His Times: David Daniels puts muscle into high-voiced roles" San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, May 31, 1998, p. PK-35. On line at http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/1998/05/31/PK54634.DTL&ao=all (accessed 20120520).
There are some NPR interviews posted of Daniels discussing this, for instance https://www.npr.org/templates/dmg/dmg.php?prgCode=ATC&showDate=22-Nov-2002&segNum=15&NPRMediaPref=RM