How the countertenor, who started out as an actor, found his voice singing baroque opera’s shadier characters.

The Catalan countertenor Xavier Sabata is coming to Australia for the first time this year to perform an exclusive recital at Hobart Baroque. The concert will feature music from his acclaimed ‘Bad Guys’ CD in a program that takes a look at what it means to be a baroque rotter. In a whirlwind tour of operatic devilry, Sabata explores the complex psychology and often deceptively beautiful music of some of Handel’s most dastardly villains.

The project came about when he received an invitation to sing at the Handel Festival at the Halle. Tired of the good guys always getting the spotlight, Sabata wanted to explore the darker side of Handel’s operas: “Sometimes in the operas, everything is focused on the hero, but the hero couldn’t exist if there was no bad guy or antagonist”, he says with undeniable logic. “So I started to make a list of all the bad guys in Handel and I thought ‘Oh my god, I could sing all these roles’”.

In full ‘Bad Guy’ mode

The recital turned into a CD project with Parnassus Arts: “Everybody from the...