JEN BUSH EXPLORES THE ICONIC LIFE AND CAREER OF DAVID SABELLA part 1
A countertenor is a type of male singing voice whose vocal range is equivalent to a female contralto or mezzosoprano. It is the rarest of all voice types and David Sabella happens to be one! According to his bio, he is cited as one of the “originators of the American countertenor sound” and the only one working in the popular music genres of Broadway and the Great American Songbook. His wildly impressive 4-octave range affords him the ability to sing in a traditional male breadth as well.
Mr. Sabella’s biography is vast and impressive to say the least. Here are some highlights. He originated the starring role of “Mary Sunshine in the 1996 revival of Chicago and remained in that role on Broadway and with the touring company for a decade. He won the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition. He’s performed throughout the world in opera companies, has done voiceover work and has performed in extensive cabarets. Just to drop a few names, he’s worked with Ann Reinking, Joel Grey, Patrick Swayze, Chita Rivera and countless others.
Mr. Sabella has built a successful international cabaret act around his alter ego, Amanda Reckonwith. She was once a lyric soprano who graced famous Broadway, concert and opera stages all around the world. She settled down to have some children and now that they’re grown and finding their own way in the world, she’s back to entertain the masses after a hiatus of several decades. She is now known to the world as her generations’ most famous “Spento” soprano. She does transformative versions of the songs of Broadway, The Great American Songbook and other popular favorites. Mr. Sabella has had multiple residencies with this show and will be in residence at New York hotspot, Pangea from April through December. It was a pleasure to chat with this incredibly talented performer to learn more about him and his thrilling career.
Mr. Sabella’s art is far from static. “What a massive question! How to talk about myself as an artist? I don’t ever think of myself in those terms. I just do what I do and I’ve been very lucky that it seems to resonate with people in a certain way. I have certainly evolved in my art. I think that’s key to it all. We are never done. We are constantly evolving. My concept of my own art now is much different than what it was 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago. And I’ve only been able to grasp what the nature of my art is by looking back with hindsight. In the moment you’re just a performing artist trying to eek out a living. That all of a sudden you look back and you realize “oh, that’s what all of that was about.””
Mr. Sabella has undertaken some major health and lifestyle changes that have positively impacted his life. “You’re right. It’s been a major change in my psyche and my gender expression and my comfort level with all of that. And it dovetails into your first question very nicely.”
“Looking back with hindsight over my career, I realized that the greatest success and artistic fulfillment I’ve ever had in my career always had something to do with my ability to blur the lines of gender with both my voice and my look. Whether I was playing Mary Sunshine in Chicago on Broadway, or singing as a Countertenor at Carnegie Hall, there has always been this unique aspect to my career. And until very recently, I kept that locked away in a small corner of my life that I reserved for “my career.” I thought “this is a thing that I do“ I didn’t realize “this is who I am.“”